This week is Maori language week. The theme this year is Arohatia te Reo, which means cherish te Reo (the Maori language): love it, honour it and speak it.
Why should we honour te Reo? This year celebrates 25 years since te Reo became the second official language in New Zealand. We hear more and more te Reo on radio and TV these days. Children in pre-schools and primary schools learn the basic words like greetings, parts of the body, days of the week and numbers. It is part of our culture.
Watch this video to learn the colour words in te Reo.
In the 1970s, older Maori people began to worry that native speakers of te Reo were dying and something needed to be done to keep the language alive. In the 1980s, immersion pre-schools began – kohanga reo – where little children could learn te Reo. Some kura kaupapa primary schools gave these children the chance to continue their education in te Reo. Now we have a number of Maori radio stations and a Maori TV station.
There is a lot of interest in learning te Reo but like all minority languages, it is struggling to become an every day language. Only one quarter of Maori people between the ages of 15 and 64 can hold a conversation, one half of those over 65 and only one in six of those under 15 can hold a conversation about every day things in te Reo. This language is only spoken in New Zealand. It could easily disappear forever.
If you have a smartphone with Vodofone, you can download a free English / te Reo app called Hika, to help you learn te Reo.
Type ‘Maori language’ in the search box to listen to other items on Maori Language week.
• cherish – love
• honour – respect
• immersion – only te Reo is spoken
• minority language – not the main language
• struggling – having a lot of difficulty
1. Why is English called a “killer” language?
2. Is it enough to be able to hold a conversation about everyday things?
3. What are the advantages of being bi-lingual?
4. What are some of the ways to keep a minority language alive?
5. Does it matter if a minority language like te Reo disappears?