Thursday, July 18, 2024

Thousands mark 50th anniversary of Māori language petition

Thousands have gathered at Parliament in Wellington today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Māori language petition.

Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson said the day was a chance to remember the 1972 petition’s pivotal role in te reo Māori revitalisation in New Zealand.

“Te reo Maori is unique to Aotearoa and makes a significant contribution to our nation being a vibrant and diverse place to live,” the Minister said.

“Fifty years on we will return to the steps of Parliament where rangatahi from Ngā Tamatoa, Te Reo Māori Society, and Te Huinga Rangatahi, along with kaumātua presented the petition.

“Those 30,000 plus signatures represented both Māori and non-Māori who wanted to fight for te reo Māori and saw it as the taonga that it is,” he said.

Mr Jackson said today was a celebration of the progress being made to ensure te reo Maori is once more a living language. 

The day began at dawn with the blessing of the Māori language petition exhibition “Tōku reo, tōku ohooho” and the opening of a four-day Māori language festival in Wellington at the National Library.

“It is also a humble day as there is much left to do in the next 50 years. But rangatahi and kaumātua, Māori and Pākehā, are taking up the challenge as did their predecessors,” Mr Jackson said.

In this spirit, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission has released its interactive Stories of Te Reo website to collect the stories, images and memories that trace the Māori language revival history.

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