Jul 25, 2012

Kelvin Davis on Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

This week is Te Reo Maori week. We know because the NZ Herald is calling itself "Te Herora o Aotearoa."

Excellent, great way to go Te Herora.

Now how about a regular page written totally in Te Reo? Maybe monthly, maybe fortnightly, maybe weekly, maybe daily. then people like myself who can read, write and speak the language, could do what English language speakers take for granted on a daily basis by being able to read the news in that other official language of New Zealand.

I have a dream that one day I can walk into any bank, service station, Pak'n'Sav, Post Office, chemist or store and conduct my transactions in Te Reo Maori if I should choose. I also want non-Maori New Zealanders to be able to do the same.

Weren't Maori guaranteed all the rights of British subjects in the Treaty? Would that mean the right to read, write and conduct business in our own language, just like Pakeha can?

In order for Te Reo Maori to flourish, we need the critical mass of New Zealanders to speak Maori to some extent.

Maori can't do it on our own. We have to stop treating Te Reo as a tapu thing and allow it to become common. All those fuddy duddies who lament the modern shortening of the vowels, the poor grammar, the eskewed pronunciation - get over it - unless you really do prefer a dead language. In which case our marae may as well become Community Halls where English is the language of the masses.

I know what the rednecks, bigots and dickheads will say - it's a waste of time, blah, blah, blah.

But who cares what rednecks, bigots and dickheads think? If more New Zealanders spoke Te Reo Maori, the world wouldn't end, the sun would still rise in the east, the sky wouldn't fall in and maybe, just maybe, we'd move a little bit closer to becoming a more culturally cohesive nation.

Fifty years go the Welsh language was in the same state Te Reo Maori is now, but through the efforts of a few, a bit of legislation here and there, Welsh is a thriving language heard and seen in the streets, shops and pubs of Wales as naturally as English.

Maori can't rely on our traditional contexts (marae and home) for language transfer anymore. Many are pretty much buggered, so we need to create non-traditional contexts, that to many will feel pretty forced and unnatural, but without it the language will struggle.

Amongst other things we need to set up Maori speaking happy hours at pubs, Maori writing clubs, Maori immersion trivial pursuit evenings, Maori immersion sports teams, support businesses that have Maori speaking staff, write Maori letters to the editor in newspapers - oh yeah, and have Maori writing for newspapers - so that people like myself can read, react and respond to Te Herora o Aotearoa in Te Reo o nga Rangatira.

Kelvin Davis


  1. This is a grand vision, one I entirely tautoko that (http://publicaddress.net/search.do?q=tautoko)

  2. I take some pride in the Maori language, despite being pakeha. It is one of the things that makes NZ really unique.

    Two suggestions from me that could aid this revival - and I'd be interested in your thoughts on #1 in particular, Kelvin:

    1. Maori instruction as a compulsory part of the primary school education. We need to encourage greater language skills anyway (I'd also advocate for compulsory second languages in HS, but that may be a bridge too far), so why not start them young. Its only our other official language, after all.

    2. Encourage the "hybridisation" of NZ English. I don't quite know exactly how to do this, but some of it is happening anyway. I hear "whanau" far more than I hear "family", for example. I mean this as some form of interim step, or something for the masses - a unique form of predominantly english language that is peppered with maori words and phrases and unique to us here. I simply think this would be kinda cool...

  3. Kia ora The Baron

    I'd like to see compulsory Maori in schools. But it is just a small part of the debate. We certainly can't expect a sector full of non-Maori speakers to save the language. The education sector is so under prepared for this important work. So there needs to be a massive investment in developing Maori speaking capacity in schools. We have to be prepared for the bigoted backlash so that we don't lose ground - or perhaps there needs to be a strategic implementation of compulsory Te Reo - and your 2nd point above could be part of that - just getting all New Zealanders to use Te Reo in daily conversation. Maybe identify the top 100 Maori words that we want Kiwis to use regularly. After a few years, identify another 100 words. Maybe we could develop "Kiwi" as a new form of English, a bit like Afrikaans is a derivative of Dutch? When in parliament I drafted a bill that strengthens the Maori Language Act and would make it compulsory for government departments to write 'schemes' to demonstrate how they would give equal effect to Te Reo as they do to English. So for example Ministries such as Health, Transport, Education, Economic Dev etc, would have to give equal status to Te Reo, and Te Taura Whiri's role would be strengthened to check up on how well they're schemes do the job. I think Rino Tirikatene has taken over that Bill.

  4. Tena rawa atu koe Kelvin. Kei te tino tautoko i tau korero kei runga ake ra. Ma tatou, ma te tangata e mohio ana ki te korero, ki te tuhi hoki hei hapai i to taua reo rangatira. Hei aha te whakaako i te reo ki nga Pakeha, hei aha te korero i runga i te pouaka whakaata, reo irirangi hoki. Ki te kore tatou, e mohio nei ki te korero, e korero, e tuhi hoki, tetahi ki tetahi, ka ngaro atu to taua nei taonga. Kua takoto te manuka! Maku e tango ake. Kei te whakatu "blog" reo Maori, mo te whakawhitiwhiti whakaaro mo nga take o te wa. He wero taku ki a koe e hoa. Me mahi tahi taua i tenei mahi. Mahau te korero torangapu, maku te korero ture. Whakapa mai, imera mai. Hei tera wiki kei te haere mai taua ka timata. Kei te taria mai to whakautu!

  5. Tena koe e Te Rakau,tuatahi ka mihi atu au ki a koe mo to whakautu ki oku whakaaro kei runga ake nei. Ae, e pai ana ki ahau ma taua ki te whakatu i tetahi 'blog' (e hoa he aha tetahi kupu mo te 'blog'?), hei wero i te hinengaro Maori, ki te whakaputa whakaaro, ki te whakaako tangata ranei. Ko taku iMera - . Whakapa mai ki ahau hei whiringa me pehea taua e timata ai.

  6. Kua timata ke pea te blog nei ?



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