"Kia ora" and "Kei te pēhea" could be normal phrases spoken in everyday lives of Aucklanders if a new language strategy gets the buy in. COMET, a subsidiary group of Auckland City Council, is proposing to have every Aucklander fluent in Māori and two other languages.
Auckland is home to over 160 different languages. However, if a new language strategy gets support, Aucklanders could be conversing in Māori.
Hauauru Rawiri (Ngāti Paoa) says, "Our customs as Māori people are to care for and protect our visitors. As indigenous people of this land, the foundation of the strategy is to empower all languages, but the Māori language is paramount."
The Auckland Languages Strategy, led by the Community Education Trust Auckland (COMET), want half of New Zealand's largest city to be fluent in multi languages by 2040, with Māori and English taking priority followed by a preferred choice.
Community Education Trust Auckland COMET head, Susan Warren, says, "That is two or more, or ideally several languages and we've got the strength of our migrants already bringing their own languages so it's not a hard target, actually."
The idea is already getting buy-in from the Auckland public.
The idea came about in the absence of progress on a national strategy in the last 20 years. Language advocates and institutions have since collectively contributed to the working document.
Judy Tagilau McFall-McCaffery of Bilingual Leo Pacific says, "It's really time for everybody to use their own languages, and for the Government, Education, all sectors, the business we know and you know the value of languages in the economic sector and so this is a celebration of those languages."
Warren says, "If we can focus on making sure that families can maintain the languages they have now and that our children and our young people and adults have the opportunity to learn the languages that they choose to."
COMET hopes the strategy will open doors for government implementation. But for now, the strategy is up for Auckland Council consideration.