Topic: Te Reo Māori

Tūhoe language strong

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The Hui Ahurei o Tūhoe is an example of revitalising the Tūhoe language.  However, according to Hemana Waaka, a judge at this year's Tūhoe debates, the iwi is not only fighting for the retention of the Tūhoe language but of the Māori language in general.

The Tūhoe language has been in decline since 2001.

Long-time broadcaster Hemana Waaka says, “There is no point in sending our children, grandchildren to kōhanga when they return home and their parents are speaking English. That's the hard part”.

Debating is a section in the Tūhoe Ahurei which aims at celebrating the language by speaking it.

2013 Statistic NZ says that 37.2 percent of the population of Tūhoe, which is 35,000, can speak and hold a conversation in Māori.

Tangiora Tawhara, who was a judge at this year’s Tūhoe debates says, “Within the Ahurei if you have a look around everything is done in the Māori language”.

The national average for people that can hold a conversation in te reo Maori is 18.4%. But for Tūhoe 37.2 percent of their population can hold a conversation in Māori.

According to Tawhara, more needs to happen to help those that can't speak Māori.

“What we really should be doing, those elders of Tūhoe that hold the ability of speaking to share that with their children, grandchildren so they are speak all the time” says Tawhara.

For Tūhoe, their festival will continue to be a platform to speak and celebrate their language.