haere atu take manu!

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

A quick ka kite anō to te wiki o te rēo Māori, which at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa (Massey University) grew into te marama o te rēo Māori. I hope you opened up the Massey home page and found it was presented in te rēo over that time. While the recent report on the state of the Māori language (http://www.tpk.govt.nz/_documents/te-reo-mauriora.pdf) doesn’t give too rosy a picture for the future, what I have noticed over the years that we had had Māori Language Week is how succeeding wiki over the years seem to have left traces in our general discourse, a greater presence of te rēo as a normal part of New Zealand English discourses. About 30 years ago, Naida Glavish of Ngati Whatua was temporarily demoted from her job as a telephone toll operator for greeting callers with Kia ora (http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/maori-language-week/history-of-the-maori-language). That caused a reaction, and nowadays that is a normal opening for notices, e-mails, telephone calls in many contexts. A few years ago, National Radio’s morning news programme, Morning Report, responded to te wiki by using a few brief greetings and formulaic introductions in their programme … but decided to keep them on after the end of the week, so that nowadays many people wake to phrases such as ata marie or Nau mai, haere mai. For Massey, this year’s contribution to te wiki (or te marama) has included our own waiata (http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/maori/maori-language-month/uni-waiata/uni-waiata_home.cfm) so let’s hope that is a lasting legacy.
However, we should not become too blindly optimistic. The wide presence of te rēo does not necessarily penetrate far enough for everybody necessarily to celebrate our linguistic riches. For example, recently when doing a five-minute quiz with a group of people, I found everyone could chorus how John Campbell finishes his show every night (see the first line of this message) but I was a little shocked when one person asked, apparently for the first time, “But what does it mean?” Let’s hope that by the time of next year’s te wiki o te rēo Māori all New Zealanders would at least be able to answer that quiz question.

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