Māori Language Week parade attracts thousands

By Heta Gardiner
  • Wellington

Thousands gathered on the streets of Wellington today to celebrate the inaugural Māori language week parade. The Māori Language Commission says the theme this year is Ākina te Reo, which encourages all of New Zealand to "Give it a Go".

‘Ākina te Reo’ (‘Give te reo a go’) is the theme for the 41st celebration of Māori Language Week.  It began with an inaugural parade on the streets of Wellington with thousands turning out to show their support.

“Check out the masses,” says Tātere McLeod of Te Mātāwai, “There's no better indication of the support of the people.”

“Some are wondering in circles,” says Wayne Ngata of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, “Some are doing a haka, singing, and dancing.”

One of the ambassadors has also found some inspiration to learn the language.

“Our school just brought te reo Māori into the school,” says Julian Dennison, “I'm learning it in little baby steps.”

However, not everyone shares his enthusiasm.  Only 18% of Māori can speak Māori.

That number sinks to 3.7% for all New Zealanders.  And less than 1% for Pākehā.

The Māori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell says, “A parade is just a parade.  However, a parade this size is for the revitalisation of our language.”

The challenge is to speak the Māori language beyond the week of celebration.