Monday, October 18, 2021

Major mana for Māori Language Day

The 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Māori language petition and Māori Language Day will be commemorated as a major anniversary next year, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today.

Cabinet has agreed to raise the mana of this significant anniversary by designating it a Tier 1 event on the Government’s 2022 commemorations programme, Ms Sepuloni said.

Tier 1 designation is reserved for major anniversaries of events whose impact was felt throughout the motu and changed Aotearoa significantly, she said.

“Government continues to recognise the importance of significant events such as this anniversary, which has shaped our history, Te Ao Māori and Aotearoa New Zealand.”

“The Māori language petition, supported by 30,000 signatories, was presented to Parliament on the 14th September 1972 by representatives of Ngā Tamatoa, Victoria University’s Te Reo Māori Society and the NZ Māori Students Association. This is an important opportunity to pay further tribute to their hard mahi.

“Te Whare o te Reo Mauriora will lead commemoration activities for the anniversary, with Te Mātāwai guiding iwi and Māori initiatives and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori leading government initiatives.

“Manatū Taonga (Ministry for Culture and Heritage) leads the Government’s wider commemorations programme, and will support this anniversary by ensuring there is a coordinated, cross-government effort to mark this important moment in our history,” Minister Sepuloni said.

Minister Jackson said the petition was a watershed moment and the determination and courage of the petitioners and all those who have helped revitalise te reo Māori in some way should be acknowledged.

“The Māori language petition changed the future for all New Zealanders. At a time when it was socially unacceptable to speak or celebrate te reo Māori: a small group stood on the steps of our parliament and called for our indigenous language to be honoured, to be taught in our schools and most importantly to be preserved for future generations. This event honours their legacy,” he said.

“This builds on the work we have already undertaken as a Government, including teaching New Zealand history in schools. As a Government we want to see te reo Māori protected and thriving. This celebration is an important part of that.”

Next year heralds a series of milestone anniversaries for te reo Māori including:

  • 50 years since the first national kapa haka competition;
  • 40 years since the first kōhanga reo opened;
  • 35 years since the Māori Language Act saw te reo become an official language and the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, was established.

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