Māori Language Month is a Cool Idea, So We're Doing It

Newsworthy is adopting the Maori Language Month idea.
Newsworthy is adopting the Maori Language Month idea.

Te Marama o Te Reo Māori. It has a good sound - alliteration and assonance. It’s also a good idea.

Over the weekend, the Prime Minister found himself facing some Sunday news cycle controversy after allegations that he laughed at a student’s suggestion of extending Māori Language Week to a whole month. According to another Waiuku College student, John Key said New Zealanders would get bored. He has since denied responding in this way, but his office has held the line that concentrating the celebrations to a week is more effective than spreading them over a month.

This may well be true, but it’s difficult to say for sure. Perhaps a month of promoting Te Reo Māori would actually help to normalise the use of the language, rather than treating it as an oddity that pops up for one week before it’s all but forgotten in day-to-day communication.

To be honest, Newsworthy’s efforts for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori this year were fairly meagre. We updated our weather graphics to include Māori place names, and we added a question to our Newsworthy Quiz asking people what ‘kairīpoata’ means (if you weren’t watching, it’s ‘journalist’). We probably should have done more, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting bored of a few changes to their daily television news.

Regardless of what John Key said or didn’t say at Waiuku College, I like the idea of a Māori language month. Te Marama o Te Reo Māori – this is worth serious consideration. As Waiuku College student Trent Brown-Marsh pointed out on 3News last night, we have a New Zealand Music Month – why only a week for one of our official languages?

"Would the weather get read in Te Reo every single day for a month? It might do but I think it's less likely," Stuff.co.nz quoted John Key telling TVNZ today. Well actually yes, I think it could be done quite easily. And I’m going to put my kupu where my mouth is.

Te Marama o Te Reo Māori is a good idea. So here’s what we’re doing to show our support: we’re keeping our weather graphics in te reo Māori for three more weeks, and we’ll bring you a Māori word of the day as well. Hopefully you won’t get bored.