Israeli language expert offers advice to Ngāti Kahugnunu

By Aroha Treacher
  • Northland
  • South Island

The inaugural Ngāti Kahungunu Māori language symposium got a lesson in Hebrew today. World renowned Israeli Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann who works to revive endangered languages says te reo Māori can be saved just like the Israeli language.

A language symposium to invigorate not only Ngāti Kahugnunu but all iwi as to the state of the Māori language.

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann says, “It's not safe unfortunately it's not a healthy situation because as far as I know most Māori do not speak Māori and when you have most of the children not speaking Māori that means a language is endangered.”

Te Panekeretanga Graduate Tātere MacLeod says his warnings are very clear, “If we don't speak our language the end result is going to see our language dead in the grave.”

Taking a leaf out of the Israel's book who successfully reclaimed their language, a language that 1000 years ago was not spoken.

“So in order for a language not to be endangered 100% of children need to speak it natively,” says Zuckermann.

His work in language revitalization around the world has struck a chord with Māori.

“It was a good reminder for us all as Māori to try harder for the betterment of our language, to speak it because it is the language of our ancestors,” says Toni Huata from Ngāti Kahungunu.

TKKM o Te Ara Hōu student Wayne Nuku says, “He was very encouraging to us as Māori to not our language slip through our hands, to not let te reo become a forgotten language.”

He shares the view that saving the language also lies in planting the seed of passion in the next generation to keep it alive.