Meet the Māori influencers dominating social media and promoting Te Reo

If you or your children frequent apps like Facebook, TikTok or Instagram, chances are you've stumbled across some Kiwi social media influencers, and chances are they're Māori.

There's a growing number of Māori creators using their massive platforms to not only share laughs but Te Reo too - and they want more people to join in.

Sonny Ngatai is one influencer. He has nearly 25,000 followers on TikTok and uses his platform to not only share Te Reo but teach it too - not just for those in New Zealand, but worldwide.

"They're crying out for it. They're engaged and they really, really want more," he says.

Influencer Te Aorere Pewhairangi is also promoting Te Reo and Māoritanga. He's completed his master's degree researching Māori broadcasting and sees digital storytelling as partly responsible for keeping the language alive.

"At the click of a button I can connect to those 150,000 people, so why not use that to promote something, and promote something that will help other people," he says.

The platforms are promoting them too. This week, streaming website Twitch has put Māori on the front page, including one of our biggest social media stars, Leighton Clarke - known online as Uncle Tics.

"We have thousands of people that come up to us - actually that's a lie because I never go out. But if I did we'd have heaps of people," Clarke says.

He lives with Tourette's, but with more than three million followers on TikTok alone, it's clear he's able to connect with people by just being himself. 

While he's proud Māori are dominating social media, he wants to see plenty more give it a go.

"What have you got to lose? I did it, I'm having fun now - [my girlfriend] Olivia isn't always because I'm throwing eggs at the roof," Clarke says.

Ngatai also wants to see more local creators on social media.

"I want other Māori, or even non-Māori who call Aotearoa home, to know that this superpower isn't just mine but it's theirs too," he says.