Regional | Māori

Should women be able to speak on the marae?

Te reo Māori debate to finish Mahuru Māori on a high in Northland

Te Kupenga Reo promotes the northern dialect in Māori language activities during Mahuru Māori, Māori language month.

The final event for the month was a lively debate between iwi teams, arguing topics such as women speaking on the marae.

It was a spirited debate that included speakers like Isaiah Apiata, Pierre Lyndon, Ngāhuia Harawira, and more.

So, should women be able to speak on the marae?

According to Crystal Waters from Ngāti Wai, āe mārika yes!

“For sure! The time has come for women to speak on the marae. How many hui have I attended and the speakers are absolutely dry?”

Pierre Lyndon says he thinks the issue has already been settled in the North.

“The issue was settled when Whina stood. Whina Cooper stood in Waitangi. The issue in Ngāpuhi has already been sorted.”

Language funding is a topic of discussion around the motu, with unprecedented interest in funding for grassroots language initiatives.

Te Mātāwai, the independent statutory entity legislated to act on behalf of Māori to revitalise te reo Māori, has been inundated with applications from Māori whānau, marae, kāinga, hapori and iwi for the 2023 Investment Programme, a contestable fund.

This year, Te Mātāwai received 500 applications, marking an almost one hundred percent increase from last year.

However, this increased demand for revitalisation initiatives far surpasses the funding allocated to Te Mātāwai.

This year, Te Mātāwai received applications totalling a record-breaking $39 million, but only had a $10.8 million appropriation available for distribution.

But should iwi still be relying on government funding to sustain Māori language initiatives?

Isaiah Apiata says yes.

“It was the government that punished Māori for speaking te reo, so there is an obligation on the government’s behalf to ensure the survival of the language.”