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Māori Language Week – September 16-23, 2024

Māori Language Week is an annual celebration held in the third week of September. This year it takes place from September 16 to 23.The initiative, also called ‘Te Wiki o te Reo Māori,’ is government-sponsored. It aims to inspire New Zealanders to speak the Māori language proudly. Māori Language Week is part of a larger effort to revitalize the Māori language. New Zealanders — and indeed, the global community — are encouraged to learn the language and experience the rich culture of the region. Events are held across the country to mark this observance and showcase the beauty of New Zealand.

History of Māori Language Week

In the early 1970s, it became clear that very few people in New Zealand could speak Māori. Many people were concerned about the state of decline and signed a petition for the Māori Language, which was organized by the Te Reo Maori Society. ‘Aotearoa’ is Māori for ‘New Zealand.’

The petition was signed by approximately 30,000 people and was presented to the parliament on September 14, 1972. This day became recognized as Māori Language Day in the year 1975 and was responsible for the formation of Maori Language Week.

In 2008, Google Māori — a Māori-language version of the popular search engine — was launched to celebrate Māori Language Week. Google and the Māori Language Commission were collaborators on the project which lasted about a year. The complexity of translating technical terms meant over 40 people were involved in making it a reality.

New Zealand’s national cricket team, the Black Caps, played their first match under the name ‘Aotearoa’ to mark Māori Language Week in 2015. Disney’s 2016 film “Moana” was translated into Māori and premiered in Auckland as part of the 2017 celebration.

Original cast members in the English version of the film, such as Oscar Kightley, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, and Temuera Morrison, reprised their roles in the Māori version. During Māori Language week, over 30 theaters in the country allowed free screenings of the new version.

In 2021, Te Wiki o te Reo Māori was marked with a special event. On September 14, more than 1.1 million people set out to speak Māori at the same time. The event is called ‘Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori’ (the Māori Language Moment). The Māori Party started a petition to adopt Aotearoa as the official name of the country on the same day.

Māori Language Week timeline

Māori Gains Popularity

Māori becomes the dominant language in New Zealand.

First Māori Book

"A Korao No New Zealand," the first book about the Māori language, is published.

First Māori Newspaper

The first newspaper written in the Māori language, "ko te Karere O Niu Tireni", is published by the government.

First Bill

The first native council bill is translated and printed in Māori.

Māori Language Week FAQs

What race are the Māori?

The Māori people are members of the Polynesian race. They are relatives and share social life and customs with the natives of islands inside the Polynesian triangle.

How do you express gratitude in Māori?

‘Kia ora’ is used as a greeting as well as a general expression of appreciation. In Māori, ‘tēnā koe’ is a formal greeting to one person, ‘tēnā kōrua’ is a formal greeting to two people, and ‘tēnā koutou’ is a formal greeting to many people.

What are the Māori known for?

The Māori are famous for their traditional facial and full-body tattooing.

How to Observe Māori Language Week

  1. Learn some new words

    Make an effort to learn at least a dozen Māori words before the week is up. You can also label rooms and furniture in your home. To make it more fun, get a friend to join you in learning. This way you can practice communicating in Māori.

  2. Correct your pronunciation

    Many of us just say the words without even trying to pronounce them correctly. If you're not sure how to pronounce a word, ask a Māori friend or look it up online. There are several videos up on YouTube that can help you through this.

  3. Watch television

    Watch a Māori children's show with your children and encourage them to repeat the words and phrases. They should get to explore the different cultures of the world.

5 New Zealand Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Pacesetters

    New Zealand was the first country to approve voting for women.

  2. Split persona

    The word ‘kiwi’ has three different meanings.

  3. Hobbiton

    Hobbit money is legal tender in New Zealand.

  4. The great outdoors

    Over 30% of New Zealand is a national reserve

  5. The longest name

    Taumatawhakatangihan­gakoauauotamateaturi­pukakapikimaungahoro­nukupokaiwhenuakitan­atahu is the name of a town in New Zealand.

Why Māori Language Week is Important

  1. Promoting the Māori Language

    The Māori language is a part of the culture and identity of New Zealanders. This observance helps to preserve and advocate the usage of a crucial part of the nation’s history.

  2. Celebrating New Zealand

    Māori Language Week goes beyond celebrating the Māori language alone. It celebrates New Zealand culture in general and the growth of the nation as a whole.

  3. Famous sites

    New Zealand is home to some of the most iconic movie sets from the Lord of the Rings saga. Who wouldn’t want to pay a visit to Middle Earth?

Māori Language Week dates

2022September 12Monday
2023September 11Monday
2024September 16Monday
2025September 15Monday
2026September 14Monday

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