This year marks the 40th anniversary of Māori Language week in New Zealand.
The week focuses on fostering the growth and appreciation of Te Reo Māori. It is organised by the Māori Language commission and aims to get as many people as possible learning and using Te Reo in every day speech.
Many media outlets support and participate in Māori Language week. For example, 3 News have used Māori place names in their weather reports, Stuff.co.nz had a Te Reo quiz, One News had a story about Te Reo Māori speakers and the New Zealand Herald featured Māori words of the day.
Finnian Galbraith recently went viral with his speech about pronouncing Māori words properly. He claims that the importance of speaking Māori is in the genuine respect you put into giving it a go. He says “we already use most of the Māori syllables in our every day speech”.
Galbraith’s speech and Māori Language week comes at a time when many are asking if New Zealand should have compulsory Māori Language lessons at school. This is crucial. New Zealand is at a point where the Māori language is at its lowest; only one in five Māori adults can hold a full conversation in Te Reo.
I spoke to five schools on Auckland’s North Shore about their involvement with Māori Language week, and they all supported it. All of the schools also had facilities set up to teach and encourage Te Reo in their normal curriculum, even though it is not required of them by the Government.
Birkdale North School’s roll is about 30 percent Māori students, they have their staff working to set up a Whanau class and working on a Te Reo professional learning development. Chelsea Primary School have a very small number of Māori students but are actively working towards integrating Te Reo in the classroom.
Check out Finnian’s speech below: