Ma¯ ori has gone main­stream

Re­vival of the Ma¯ori lan­guage in New Zealand.

Vocable (All English) - - Sommaire - ELEANOR AINGE ROY

Maoris rep­re­sent about 15 % of the pop­u­la­tion in New Zealand. Their cul­ture was re­pressed to the point of ex­tinc­tion sev­eral times when the Euro­pean set­tlers came to the is­lands in the 19th cen­tury. It was only in 1987 that Maori be­came one of the coun­try’s of­fi­cial lan­guages. Times have changed, and now all New Zealan­ders want to learn to speak it.

Max Smitheram, 54, has at­tempted to learn te reo Māori (the Māori lan­guage) on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, but he has never stuck with it – un­til now. A pakeha [Euro­pean New Zealan­der], Smitheram at­tends free weekly classes and prac­tises at home with his Uruguayan part­ner, who is also learn­ing the lan­guage. “I had a long­stand­ing wish to learn Māori. It is re­ally in­ter­est­ing to have the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand dif­fer­ent ways of think­ing and un­der­stand more about my home,” said Smitheram, an en­vi­ron­men­tal plan­ner. 2. Smither­ham is not alone. Te reo is un­der­go­ing a re­vival in New Zealand, with jam-packed classes and wait­ing lists now com­mon. Māori lan­guage teach­ers from Auck­land in the North Is­land to Dunedin and Invercargill in the South say they are un­able to meet de­mand for their ser­vices and free classes rou­tinely draw hun­dreds of stu­dents.


3. John McCaf­fery, a lan­guage ex­pert at the Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land school of ed­u­ca­tion, says the lan­guage is thriv­ing, with other indige­nous peo­ples trav­el­ling to New Zealand to learn how Māori has made such a strik­ing come­back. “It has been re­ally dra­matic, the past three years in par­tic­u­lar, Māori has gone main­stream,” he said.

4. Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics New Zealand, the pro­por­tion of Māori peo­ple able to hold an ev­ery­day con­ver­sa­tion in te reo de­creased 3.7%

be­tween 1996 and 2013. But anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gests num­bers of non-Māori speak­ers of the lan­guage are ris­ing, as are young Māori adults and pro­fes­sion­als, who would not have been cap­tured in the last cen­sus.

5. Big business is on board, too. Google has launched a Māori ver­sion of its web­site, Voda­fone has helped Google Maps record more ac­cu­rate Māori pro­nun­ci­a­tions, Dis­ney has re­leased a Māori ver­sion of the hit Poly­ne­sian film Moana, and Fletcher Build­ing has rolled out bilin­gual signs on all its con­struc­tion sites. “There’s an in­creas­ing sense that te reo is good for iden­ti­fy­ing your business as com­mit­ted to New Zealand,” said Ngahiwi Apanui, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Māori Lan­guage Com­mis­sion.


6. The sta­tus of te reo as an in­creas­ingly ad­mired lan­guage – with its speak­ers gar­ner­ing re­spect – is a long way from the pe­riod fol­low­ing the sec­ond world war when Māori speak­ers were chas­tised for us­ing their lan­guage. Young Māori re­call be­ing beaten or whipped for speak­ing te reo in schools and gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions such as or­phan­ages, and at home more Māori gave up on the lan­guage and learned English to get jobs as a vast mi­gra­tion from ru­ral to ur­ban be­gan. By the 1980s, fewer than 20% of Māori spoke te reo.

7. Now it is very dif­fer­ent. Ac­cord­ing to sur­veys by Te Puni Kōkiri, a Māori pub­lic pol­icy group, “at­ti­tudes to­wards the Māori lan­guage among Māori and nonMāori are im­prov­ing.” Maori words such as kiaora (hello), Aotearoa (New Zealand), kia kaha (be strong) and kai (food) have long been part of New Zealand English. But the use of oth­ers is spread­ing. The prime min­is­ter, Jacinda Ardern, re­cently gave her child a Māori mid­dle name: Te Aroha, Aroha mean­ing “love”. The ges­ture was wel­comed by tribal groups, who said Ardern was im­prov­ing re­la­tions be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Māori peo­ple.

8. On New Zealand’s na­tional day, Wai­tangi, this year, the first 49 sec­onds of Ardern’s speech on the sa­cred treaty grounds were de­liv­ered in te reo. At Buck­ing­ham Palace in April, the prime min­is­ter be­gan her Com­mon­wealth toast with a Māori proverb, in a video that has been watched tens of thou­sands of times.


9. In June, the Māori heavy-me­tal band Alien Weaponry’s al­bum Tū went right to num­ber one in New Zealand and has had more than a mil­lion streams on Spo­tify, while last year Wairua by the Māori group Maimoa Mu­sic was the most-watched YouTube clip in New Zealand, seen more than 5.5m times.

10. A larger range of Māori pro­gram­ming has also played p a sig­nif­i­cant role in nor­mal­is­ing the lan­guage, in­clud­ing pub­licly funded Māori TV, whose pre­sen­ters and jour­nal­ists speak only in Māori, with cap­tions pro­vided.

11. All sig­nage is now bilin­gual in gov­ern­ment of­fices, hos­pi­tals and most pub­lic spa­ces and the first bilin­gual chil­dren’s play­ground was opened in Rotorua this year. Main­stream broad­cast­ers on com­mer­cial chan­nels such as TVNZ and TV3 have shown a com­mit­ment to us­ing Māori live on air and ig­nore crit­ics who com­plain of feel­ing ex­cluded. Tele­vi­sion news pre­sen­ter Kanoa Lloyd, of Māori de­scent, be­gan in­tro­duc­ing te reo words to her weather re­ports in 2015 and re­ceived a tor­rent of com­plaints and on­line abuse. She has con­tin­ued to use te reo on her prime-time show The Project.

12. “Te reo has be­come cool and I am very happy about that. For a long time we thought it was over,” said Dr Arapera Bella Ngaha, who is study­ing the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of te reo at Auck­land uni­ver­sity.

(Paul Green­wood/Shut­ter­stock/SIPA)

Maoris wel­com­ing the Bri­tish & Ir­ish Lions at Wai­tangi Treaty Grounds.


anec­do­tal ev­i­dence (inv.) un­of­fi­cial proof based on ob­ser­va­tions / to rise, rose, risen to go up, to in­crease / to cap­ture to take into ac­count, to rep­re­sent / cen­sus sur­vey which de­ter­mines de­tails about the pop­u­la­tion of a na­tion. 5. to be on board to be ready to par­tic­i­pate, to be in­volved / to launch to start, to cre­ate / ac­cu­rate pre­cise / to re­lease to bring out / to roll out to pro­duce and put in place / sign board with writ­ing on it / in­creas­ing grow­ing / sense feel­ing / to be com­mit­ted to to be loyal to, to ad­here to the val­ues of / chief ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent. 6. to garner to ac­quire, to gain / a long way from very dif­fer­ent to / to chas­tise to pun­ish / to re­call to re­mem­ber / to whip to hit sharply (usu­ally with a piece of leather) / such as like (for ex­am­ple)... / or­phan­age es­tab­lish­ment for chil­dren with­out par­ents / to give, gave, given up on to aban­don, to re­nounce / as here, when / by here, in. 7. sur­vey poll, study / pol­icy plan of ac­tion adopted by a gov­ern­ment / to­wards with re­gards to / among here, with / to im­prove to get bet­ter / to be part of to be an in­te­gral as­pect of / to spread, spread, spread to de­velop / mid­dle name sec­ond name / to wel­come to re­ceive with plea­sure. 8. treaty grounds place where the Treaty of Wai­tangi was signed in 1840 be­tween rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Bri­tish -CrownMaand ori chiefs / to de­liver here, to speak, to say. 9. band group / right straight / while here, and. 10. range va­ri­ety / sig­nif­i­cant im­por­tant /to fund to fi­nance / cap­tion words writ­ten un­der a pic­ture, sub­ti­tle / to pro­vide to give.11. sig­nage sign­posts, signs / play­ground place where chil­dren can play / broad­caster pre­sen­ter / chan­nel TV sta­tion / on air on tele­vi­sion / critic de­trac­tor / tocom­plain to crit­i­cize, to de­plore / de­scent an­ces­try, ori­gin / weather re­port pre­sen­ta­tion of a fore­cast of me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions / abuse in­sults / show TV pro­gramme. 12. to be over to be fin­ished.

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