Māori Language Week: Teachers say demand to learn Te Reo outstripping supply

When Te Reo use was last officially recorded six years ago, it looked as though the language was in decline.

But anecdotally those who teach the language say the opposite is true.

Te Reo classes at Auckland's AUT University are a hot ticket; demand is far outstripping supply. 

Just under 1600 would-be Māori speakers are enrolled there; more than double the number from three years ago. Hundreds more are on a waiting list.

"The reason we can't bring them in is because we don't have enough teachers at the moment to do that," AUT lecturer Hēmi Kelly told Newshub.

Kelly said nothing they're teaching has changed, it's just that people are more interested. And it's across the board through age, gender and ethnicity.

"They want to deepen their understanding of the language and the culture and learn how to pronounce correctly," Kelly said. "And over time, you see a shift in that motivation, the reason that brought them here. 

"Some people describe it as falling in love with the language when they end up understanding the language more and having an insight into the culture." 

And having an insight into Māori issues, and trying to understand the more contentious problems facing Māori is having an effect.

"It's our language, it belongs to this place that we call home," Kelly told Newshub. "Perhaps we have a better understanding of that." 

Titirangi Fire Station manager Matthew Evans started his Te Reo journey eight-years-ago.

He told Newshub he'd always wanted to learn the language. Last year he became a video sensation when he gave instructions on how to install a smoke alarm in Te Reo Māori.

"So where Te Reo was mainly spoken in certain areas, it's now being spoken in all areas," Kelly said. "Where Te Reo was mainly spoken by only Māori is being spoken by Māori and mon-Māori."

And that's where the future of Te Reo lies; across all the places, and people that makeup Aotearoa.