Māori Language Week, known as Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, is an annual celebration held in New Zealand during the third week of September.
This year, it runs from September 11 to September 17, 2023, with the theme “Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori,” which means “making the language stronger.”
This theme carries forward from 2022 and highlights the ongoing efforts to promote and preserve the Māori language.
A Glimpse into History
Te Reo Māori, the Māori language, has a rich history in New Zealand that predates European settlement by over a thousand years. In those early times, it was primarily an oral language, passed down through generations via storytelling and traditional songs (waiata). Māori culture and history were recorded symbolically in carvings, knots, and weavings.
However, the 19th century brought significant challenges. The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 resulted in British sovereignty over New Zealand, leading to land confiscations and the suppression of Māori culture and language. The government discouraged the use of Te Reo Māori in schools and public spaces as part of an assimilation effort into European society. This led to a decline in the use of the language.
Resilience and Revival
Despite these adversities, the Māori language never completely disappeared. A dedicated group of Māori language speakers and advocates worked tirelessly to preserve and revitalize Te Reo. Their efforts are a testament to the resilience of the Māori people and their determination to safeguard their cultural heritage.
Te Reo Māori Today
The Māori language has made a remarkable comeback and continues to thrive in contemporary New Zealand. It serves as a living connection to the past and a bridge to a more inclusive and culturally rich future. Embracing Te Reo Māori honors New Zealand’s history and strengthens the bonds of its diverse society, ensuring that the language remains vibrant for generations to come.
About Māori Language Week
Māori Language Week, born out of protest, has evolved into a celebration and promotion of Te Reo Māori for everyone. It includes the “Māori Language Moment,” known as “Te Wā Tuku Reo Māori,” which encourages people to pause and celebrate the language. This initiative, devised by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, aims to involve more than one million people because one million speakers are needed by 2040 to safeguard the language.
Communities across New Zealand are joining together to celebrate their indigenous language during Māori Language Week, recognizing its unique role in the nation’s identity and its ongoing journey towards revitalization.
You can learn more and get involved in the festivities by visiting the www.reoMāori.co.nz website.