Maori Language Week is 23-29 July 2012 – New Zealand

A date for your diaries Maori Language Week is 23-29 July 2012.

For more information see below. If you have a language week or bilingual day, or even a language day please share the information with us here.

He Whakapapa Reo Māori – Short History of Māori language

Māori is the foundation language of Aotearoa, the ancestral language of tangata whenua (indigenous people) and a taonga guaranteed protection under the Treaty of Waitangi.

During the 19th and early 20th century Māori language was the main language of communication. However, the establishment of schools saw Māori children being taught almost entirely in English. An English language only policy was often strictly enforced through physical punishment.

Urban migration

During the 1940s-1970s Māori migrated from rural communities to urban centres. English language was seen by many Māori as the key to wealth, increased social standing and better standards of living.

Many Māori parents stopped speaking Māori to their children. This, together with policies which favoured English as the dominant language, resulted in a massive language loss within the Māori population who moved from speaking Māori to English.

Language initiatives

By the 1970s, it was predicted that Māori would soon be a language without native speakers. This caused grave concern among Māori, resulting in initiatives to revitalise the language including Te Ātaarangi (a language learning system), kōhanga reo (Māori language pre-schools), kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language schools) and Māori broadcasting.

Māori Language Act

In 1987, the Māori Language Act declared Māori to be an official language of New Zealand and established the Māori Language Commission – Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori to promote the growth of Māori language.


Recent research suggests that the number of Māori speakers has stabilised with approximately 130,000 Māori indicating some ability to speak Māori. This represents about 25% of the Māori population. However, the number of fluent speakers is significantly less and the situation requires concentrated efforts to ensure that the language survives. It is hoped that the establishment of the Māori Television Service along with other initiatives in recent years will bear further fruits for the revitalisation of Māori language.

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Bilingual and reo Māori booklets produced for Māori Language Week and available at Countdown supermarkets Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori has released two new phrase booklets to help promote the theme of Arohatia te Reo for this year’s Māori Language Week taking place from 23-29 July. “Typically we produce just the one bilingual booklet for Māori Language Week, but given a key message for language revitalisation is language use, we would be remiss in not providing something aimed at intermediate level speakers and above, hence the two booklets”, says Chief Executive, Glenis Philip-Barbara.

“The bilingual booklet has three main themes aimed at helping people to support the Arohatia te Reo theme – Learn it, live it, love it.  The Learn it section covers pronunciation and other basics of the language; phrases for around the home, coupled with photographic lay outs of various home settings with Māori language labels form the main content in the Live it section; while the Love it section contains an A-Z of fun Māori language activities” says Glenis Philip-Barbara.

“The reo Māori booklet, is for intermediate speakers, and provides tips and hints about how speakers can improve their language skills through correct and informed use of whakataukī; kīwaha and kupu whakarite, but also has a key message of keeping the language simple, and aligned with Māori thought.  The booklet also contains dialogue scenarios based on travelling in the car to illustrate how this can be achieved in everyday communications” says Glenis Philip-Barbara. “Our partners – Te Puni Kōkiri and the Human Rights Commission, have been working with us to promote and celebrate the week throughout the country.  We have produced additional resources also that support whānau and organisations using Māori language in their everyday activities,” says Glenis Philip-Barbara.

Resources for Māori Language Week 2012 include bilingual and reo Māori full colour booklets Arohatia te Reo, with helpful phrases, words and activities for a range of settings in the community; posters; stickers; wristbands; balloons; iron-on tee shirt transfers and more.

“We also have a range of resources that can be downloaded from the website.  These include the photographic lay-outs of the home settings with labels from the bilingual booklet; a word-find; and a template for listing your tribal connections in both English and Māori” says Glenis Philip-Barbara. For any organisations wanting bulk orders, a high resolution print file can be provided upon request for you to print your own quantities. You can also have your own logo on the outside back cover. An order form can be downloaded from the Kōrero Māori website: Please note that resources are being provided for free again this year but at limited quantities.  Those quantities are indicated on the order form.  Orders will be processed on a first in, first served basis. However if you’re only after a singular bilingual booklet for yourself, you can pick up a free copy from your local Countdown supermarket.  These will be available at Countdown throughout Māori Language Week. “It’s great to have Countdown supermarkets on board again this year helping to support Māori Language Week.  Accessibility to the phrase booklet, a core item for Māori Language Week promotions, has now greatly improved thanks to their participation and we hope this will also lead to increased language use in our communities” says Glenis Philip-Barbara. For more information visit: