New Zealand Law Society - Te Reo Maori Week 9-15 September

Te Reo Maori Week 9-15 September

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Te wiki o te reo Māori begins Monday 9 September. The theme for 2019 is Kia Kaha.

Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Maori (formerly the Māori Language Commission) promotes the week as a time organisations should endeavour to include te reo Māori into their daily practises.

Encouraging participants to get involved for the month of September, the Commission provides resources and information on events around New Zealand.

There are also resources which help organisations to incorporate Māori language into everyday use, language plans and other tips.

“We often talk about language as if they are people, talking about language health, strength and revitalisation,” the Commission says.

“So when we say ‘Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’ we’re saying ‘let’s make the Māori language strong.’”

Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy has been announced as the week’s ambassador.

Te reo Māori in law

The first time Māori language was celebrated was for a day in 1972, the New Zealand History website reports.

Three groups; Ngā Tamatoa (The Young Warriors, Auckland), Victoria University’s Te Reo Māori Society, and Te Huinga Rangatahi (the New Zealand Māori Students Association) delivered a petition to Parliament on September 14, asking to promote the language. Three years later, a Māori Language Day became Māori Language Week.

In 1985 the Waitangi Tribunal heard the Te Reo Māori claim that asserted the language as a taonga of which the Crown was obliged to protect under te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Passing of the Māori Language Act 1987 recognised te reo Māori as an official language, allowing speakers the right to use it in legal settings such as court.

The Maori Language Amendment Act 1991 legislated the Māori Language Commission’s name to Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Maori.

The range of legal proceedings te reo could be spoken before also expanded to the Commission of Inquiry, as well as any tribunal or other bodies with statutory requirements to inquire and report upon matters of particular interest to Māori people.

Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori 2016 (The Māori Language Act 2016) replaced the 1987 Act.

The new legislation established Te Mātāwai, an independent statutory entity, to provide leadership on behalf of iwi and Māori in their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of Māori language.

Te Mātāwai is also charged with the responsibility to work with the Crown to support the revitalisation of te reo Māori through the joint-development of Māori language strategies.