Māori Language Week is an annual campaign, led by the Māori Language Commission, to promote the language within New Zealand.
Since 1975 the campaign has aimed to raise awareness and encourage New Zealanders to use the Maori language. It celebrates that New Zealand has its very own language and maintains its importance and relevance in today’s society.
Te Reo Māori is currently undergoing a resurgence as an increasing number of people are learning to speak the language. The Maori language and culture has become a prominent fixture in New Zealand culture as there are a number of Māori-language schools, Māori radio stations, and a Māori television channel.
In the 1980s there was a time when some people objected to hearing simple Māori greetings such as ‘Kia ora’ – which illustrates the impact and success the campaign has had on New Zealand’s culture and identity.
Raniera Winikerei has previously worked in iwi radio and is fluent in Te Reo Maori. He believes the campaign is “a great opportunity to raise awareness around the language in not just the Maori community, but across the whole country.”
He is actively involved in this year’s Maori Language Week, as he is partaking in a Maori Language Debate and organising an event to celebrate the campaign.
Winikerei admits that there is a decline in the Maori language as it is not as popular, particularly among Maori youth. His aim is to instill his passion for the language to others as it’s an integral part of his identity.
Eighteen-year-old Jake Konia conveys the promise of his generation, as he openly admits he “loves his culture” but “wishes it would be more important in today’s society”.
Despite not being fluent, it is his aspiration to become fluent and more confident with the language and could possibly see himself involved in Maori radio in the future.
The theme for this year is ākina te Reo – behind you all the way which is about using te Reo Māori to support people, to inspire and to cheer on.
The campaign will run from July 4 – 10.