Media Statements


Māori Language Week Celebrated in Marlborough

Kaumaataua talks of te reo journey

Māori Language Week Celebrated in Marlborough SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Blenheim resident Matt Baker decided to learn te Reo Maori so he would not be left behind by his grandchildren.

Keeping up with his grandchildren was enough motivation for Matt Baker to enrol in a te Reo Maori language course.

The Blenheim truck driver is celebrating Maori Language Week this week, which runs from July 4 to July 10.

Baker said he had always encouraged his children and grandchildren to learn te Reo Maori when they were growing up, but had never learnt the language himself.

"I'm one of those people who are 'Do as I say, not as I do'."

This year Baker decided to enrol in a Maori language course through Maori tertiary institution Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Going back to school after being out of a classroom for six decades was a challenge, but it was worth it, Baker said.

"It's the best thing I've done in the past few years."

Baker said he felt more comfortable in his role as a kaumatua, or Maori elder, after learning te Reo Maori.

"I'm just really starting my language journey. It will take a while for me but I'll get there with the support of my family."
His family gifted him a tokotoko, or ceremonial carved speaking stick, as a symbol of their support for him after he enrolled in Maori language classes.

His goal was to one day deliver a kaikorero, or formal speech, at a marae powhiri.

Ngati Apa ki te Ra To cultural adviser Kiley Nepia said the iwi was working hard to foster the Maori language.

Although gains had been made, the Maori language was still at risk of being lost, Nepia said.

Te Reo Maori was a window into the Maori world, Nepia said.

"It's the key to our culture. If you lose the language you lose a big part of our culture.

"It's important not just for Maori but for all New Zealanders. It makes us different as a nation."

As part of research carried out by Colmar Brunton this year, nine out of 10 Ngati Apa Ki Te Ra To members said they had limited or no ability to speak te Reo Maori.

The survey found 5 per cent of iwi members were fluent in te Reo Maori.

As part of the 2013 Census, 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders said they could have a conversation about everyday things in the Maori language.

Those under the age of 30 were more likely to speak te Reo Maori than those over the age of 30.

More information here:

« Back