Thousands march in Wellington for Māori Language Week

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Wellington

Thousands took to the streets of Wellington today to celebrate the city’s Māori Language Week parade.  It's an initiative by Te Taura Whiri and Wellington City Council, which is also taking steps to become New Zealand's next bilingual city.

Wellington city streets were filled with the sound of te reo Māori as more than 7,000 students, teachers, kōhanga reo and families marched through Lambton Quay.

Te Taura Whiri CEO Ngahiwi Apanui says, "It's an opportunity for the public to come out and show their love and support for te reo Māori because people still believe there is no place for te reo.  The show of support today obviously dispels those negative views." 

The Wellington Māori Language Week parade has been going for two years.  Apanui says support is increasing each year.  

"We are being informed that more parents want their children to learn te reo and this is all a part of encouraging that.  Most of the people on this march today can't speak te reo Māori."

Marchers were welcomed onto Wellington's Civic Square, recently named Te Ngākau in one of the first steps by council to implement their initiative to become a reo Māori capital by 2040. 

Wellington City Mayor Justin Lester says, "Te Tauihu, our policy was introduced and we've seen a whole lot of changes already in the city and are looking forward to rolling those out over the course of the next coming years."

Deputy Mayor Jill Day says, "We would love Wellington to be a bilingual city as soon as possible.  We're aiming for 2040 when we really see it and it is just normalised and we see and hear te reo Māori everywhere."

Māori Language Week celebrations are soon to conclude but Wellingtonians and council hope to make te reo Māori a signature part of their city for years to come.