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Great support for country’s first language

Opinion Piece

Kia ora

Almost 100 years ago Sir Apirana Ngata urged Maori to hold on to our culture and our language. Today as we head towards this millennium’s third decade, his words are as important now as they were when he was the local MP.

Thousands supported our national language in so many ways this year. Some of New Zealand’s biggest companies, right down to some of the smallest, were with us. In spite of the weather, people from across the region came out to support te reo: big thanks to Turanga FM, Trust Tairawhiti, Turanga Health, Rongowhakaata iwi, Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, Gisborne District Council and the whanau at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae. There were many more too. Locals from all walks of life and across Te Tairawhiti — elders, to new entrants, business owners, to librarians — were celebrating Maori language in some way during Maori Language Week.

On behalf of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori, the Maori Language Commission, I would like to express our sincere thanks to this paper and the many locals who embodied our theme for 2019: Kia kaha te reo Maori.

This year more than 20,000 New Zealanders took part in our language parades across Aotearoa. Online, we engaged with more than

3 million people. We would like to thank everyone but need your help; if you or someone you know organised a Maori Language Week event, please let us know at: info@tetaurawhiri.org.nz

Our Nga Tohu Reo Maori Awards open in the next week and we encourage you to enter.

We know people who learn te reo Maori will find it easier to learn other languages: being able to speak more than one language is the kind of skill our children will need in the growing, global economy. This year is the International Year of Indigenous Languages and I am proud to be able to report that here in our country, millions of fellow Kiwis are supporting our first language. Being world leaders begins in our towns, communities, schools and homes.

New Zealand is the turangawaewae, the home of the Maori language. It is something for all of us to celebrate as part of our unique Kiwi identity. We have gone from protest to parade in a single generation. I am hugely excited about what the next generation will bring.

Kia kaha te reo Maori!

Ngahiwi Apanui

Chief Executive, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori