• Our Words Matter

Reflections on Te Wiki o te reo Māori

Opinion article written by Stacey Shortall


Te Reo Māori has been widely celebrated this week.

In many of our homes, schools and workplaces, there has been an added emphasis on using Te Reo Māori. Placards have been put up, waiata sung and kapa haka performed. Te Reo Māori and tikanga have been recognised and valued.

It would be fair to say that Te Wiki o te reo Māori (Māori Language Week) has been a success.

While there are varying estimates of how many people speak Te Reo Māori, there can be no dispute that, by supporting each other to learn the native tongue of Maori, we can all feel pride in the indigenous heritage of our country.


For Te Reo Māori not only enables us to communicate and connect with each other, it allows us to appreciate the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. It lets us cultivate a better understanding of our identity and our diversity.


For these reasons, it will be how we continue to celebrate Te Reo Māori next week, and in the weeks after, that will really matter.

If we truly want to teach all New Zealand children to foster diversity and value culture, we must constantly and consistently recognise how Te Reo Māori enriches our society.

Although children may be more apt at picking up languages, each of us who does not speak Te Reo Māori fluently can continue to extend our vocabulary and conversations. We can make the workplace placards permanent, the waiata louder and the kapa haka performances more frequent. We can actively support efforts and programmes that advance such initiatives. We can lead by example. We can help create even more open-minded youth.


Research shows that being bilingual helps develop multi-tasking and concentration skills, not to mention the ability to process several different thoughts at once. I suspect we could all do with more of that. I equally suspect that we could all benefit from more constant access to the different perspectives and insights that Te Reo Māori brings.


I also suspect that none of us would wish to deny any of our children that.



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