September 14, 2022
Getting a wriggle along for Maori language moment
As we celebrate the 47th Maori Language Week, the woman known by some as the mother of Kohanga Reo – 93 year old Dame Iritana Tāwhiwhirangi – says so much has changed in her lifetime.
Maori have gone from being punished at schools for speaking their native language to the push in the 1970s to have Maori a curriculum option in the court battles of the 1980s to make it a right.
“There’s more Maori language now popping up all over the place. We’ll never get to perfection but anything that wriggles in New Zealand today is having a go at te reo. If that isn’t something to celebrate – it’s a major, major movement,” she says.
Dame Iritana says while the crown has an obligation to support te reo, Maori must never forget it is their responsibility to ensure it never comes close to being lost again.
Some of those responsible for the 1972 Maori Language Petition will be hosted at Parliament today, and this year’s Maori language Moment is at noon, when Te Taura Whiri is encouraging people to do something to celebrate te reo Maori.