Māori language revival

The Māori language revival is a movement to promote, reinforce and strengthen the use of te reo Māori, the Māori language. Primarily in New Zealand, but also in places with large numbers of expatriate New Zealanders (such as London and Melbourne), the movement aims to increase the use of Māori in the home, in education, government and business. The movement is part of a broader Māori renaissance.

Until World War II (1939–1945) most Māori people spoke Māori as their first language but by the 1980s fewer than 20 per cent of Māori spoke the language well enough to be classed as native speakers. The causes of the decline included the switch from using Māori to using English compulsorily in schools and increasing urbanisation, which disconnected younger generations from their extended families and in particular their grandparents, who traditionally played a large part in family life. Even many of those people no longer spoke Māori in the home. As a result, many Māori children failed to learn their ancestral language, and generations of non-Māori-speaking Māori emerged.

In response, Māori leaders initiated Māori-language recovery-programs such as the Kōhanga Reo ("language nests") movement,[1] which from 1982 immersed infants in Māori from infancy to school age. In 1989 official support was given for Kura Kaupapa Māori—primary and secondary Māori-language immersion schools.

Māori Language Week

A government-sponsored initiative, te Wiki o te reo Māori, Māori Language Week, has been celebrated since 1975 and is intended to encourage New Zealanders to support te reo Māori.

Māori Language Act 1987 and the Māori Language Commission

The Māori Language Act 1987 was passed as a response to the Waitangi Tribunal finding that the Māori language was a taonga, a treasure or valued possession, under the Treaty of Waitangi.[2]

The Act gave te reo Māori official-language status, and gave speakers a right to use it in legal settings such as in court. It also established the Māori Language Commission (initially called Te Komihana Mo Te Reo Māori but later renamed Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori) to promote the language and provide advice on it.

Kōhanga Reo

Kōhanga Reo (Māori for "language nest") is a whānau (family) development and language-revitalisation initiative grounded in Māori cultural principles and ideals. It facilitates the growth and development of mokopuna (grandchildren) through the transmission of Māori language, knowledge and culture. The kōhanga reo movement operates from the Māori philosophical world view and is principally guided by kaumātua (respected elders).

Individual Kōhanga Reo are autonomously run by their respective whānau, which consists of a "collective group of teachers, parents, local elders, and members of the Māori community".[3] While funded by governmental quarterly grants from the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, Kōhanga Reo often also charge additional fees to cover operational costs. These fees, determined by each whānau, are generally comparable to or less expensive than traditional child-care.[4] Conducted entirely in te reo Māori, a kōhanga reo is an environment where 0–6-year-olds,[5] kaumātua and whānau spend time together talking, playing, praying and learning. Daily activities may take place anywhere that is safe and warm including marae (traditional community meeting places), converted homes or purpose-built centres.

Emerging in the late 1970s at the direction of kaumātua, kōhanga reo was an immediate and urgent response to the decline of te reo Māori (Māori language) and tikanga Māori (Māori culture, cultural habits and practices). Jean Puketapu and Iritana Tawhiwhirangi were among the early leaders when the first kōhanga reo was founded in Wainuiomata in 1982.[6] Three years later there were over 300 operating.[6] The success of kōhanga reo is such that they have been followed by the establishment of primary schools and secondary schools (Kura Kaupapa Māori) where Māori is the primary language of instruction. The role of Maori language in education in New Zealand is enshrined in the Education Act 1989.[7]

The kōhanga reo concept has led to other before-school initiatives in New Zealand that instruct in Pacific languages, e.g. Fijian, Rarotongan, Samoan, and Tongan and other countries adopting a similar concept. A notable example being Pūnana Leo established in Hawaii to revitalise the indigenous Hawaiian language.[8]


Election campaigns by the Māori Party often feature increased roles for reo Māori. In the 2011 election, the party wanted to require that all secondary schools offer the language as an option to every student.[9]

Kura Kaupapa Māori

Kura Kaupapa Māori are Māori-language-immersion primary schools.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust". Retrieved 2019-04-10. Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board was established in 1982 and formalised as a charitable trust in 1983. The Mission of the Trust is the protection of Te reo, tikanga me ngā āhuatanga Māori by targeting the participation of mokopuna and whānau into the Kōhanga Reo movement and its Vision is to totally immerse Kōhanga mokopuna in Te Reo, Tikanga me ngā āhuatanga Māori.
  2. ^ Dana, Peterson (14 March 2000). "Te Reo Māori - the Māori language" (PDF). New Zealand Parliamentary Library. pp. 1–9 [3]. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  3. ^ King, Jeanette. 2001. Te kōhanga reo: Māori language revitalization. In The green book of language revitalization in practice, ed. Leanne Hinton and Ken Hale, 123. New York: Academic Press.
  4. ^ King, Jeanette. 2001. Te kōhanga reo: Māori language revitalization. In The green book of language revitalization in practice, ed. Leanne Hinton and Ken Hale, 119–128. New York: Academic Press.
  5. ^ Schooling is compulsory from age 6 in New Zealand
  6. ^ a b Thomson, Rebecca (14 November 2015). "Celebrating New Zealand's first kohanga reo - 150 Years of News". The Dominion Post. Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  7. ^ Education Act 1989
  8. ^ Neason, Alexandria. "How Hawaiian Came Back From the Dead". www.slate.com. Slate. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  9. ^ Tahana, Yvonne (10 November 2011). "Maori Party wants te reo available to all". nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 25 November 2011. The Maori Party wants to make te reo 'compulsorily available' in schools by 2015 but students wouldn't be compelled to take the subject.
  10. ^ "Education Act 1989, Section 155: Kura Kaupapa Maori". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 10 May 2017.

External links

Ghosts and spirits in Māori culture

The topic of ghosts and spirits (kehua) in Māori culture is often considered a tapu subject, yet many Māori legends contain mentions of apparitions and paranormal occurrences. It is claimed that long deceased family members may appear to warn of upcoming danger, such as with the famous phantom canoe in 1886 that many reportedly saw on Lake Tarawera, that is believed to have been an omen for the volcanic eruption that occurred eleven days later.Kikokiko are known in Māori belief as malevolent ghosts that take possession of living people, making them lose sanity. Taniwha are guardian monsters that reside in bodies of water such as rivers or lakes and can appear as sharks, whales, dragons or even floating logs.


In Māoridom and New Zealand, a hapū ("subtribe", or "clan") functions as "the basic political unit within Māori society".


The Hauora is a Māori philosophy of health and well-being unique to New Zealand. That helps schools be educated and prepared for what they are about to face in life.

There are four dimensions of Hauora; Taha Tinana (Physical Well-being - health), Taha Hinengaro (Mental and Emotional well-being - self-confidence), Taha Whanau (Social Well-being - self-esteem) and Taha Wairua (Spiritual well-being - personal beliefs) There is physical, emotional/mental, social and spiritual caring.The Whare Tapa Wha model represents aspects of Hauora as the four walls of a whare, each wall representing a different dimension. All four dimensions are necessary for strength and stability.

Kapa haka

Kapa haka is the term for Māori performing arts and literally means 'group' (kapa) and 'dance' (haka). Kapa haka is an avenue for Māori people to express and showcase their heritage and cultural Polynesian identity through song and dance.

Kapa haka dates back to pre-European times where it developed from all traditional forms of Māori pastimes; haka, mau rākau (weaponry), poi (ball attached to rope or string) and mōteatea (traditional Māori songs). These everyday activities were influential to the development of kapa haka.

A kapa haka performance involves choral singing, dance and movements associated in the hand-to-hand combat practised by Māori in mainly precolonial times, presented in a synchronisation of action, timing, posture, footwork and sound. The genre evolved out of a combination of European and Māori musical principles.

Language nest

A language nest is an immersion-based approach to language revitalization in early-childhood education. Language nests originated in New Zealand in the 1980s, as a part of the Māori-language revival in that country. The term "language nest" is a translation of the Māori phrase kōhanga reo. In a language nest, older speakers of the language take part in the education of children through intergenerational language transference.

List of Māori deities

This is a list of Māori deities.

Māori Americans

Māori Americans are Americans of Māori descent, an ethnic group from New Zealand.

Māori Indians

Māori Indians (or Indo-Māori) are an ethnic group in New Zealand of people with mixed Māori and Indian ancestry.

Māori migration canoes

Various Māori traditions recount how their ancestors set out from their homeland in waka hourua, great double-hulled ocean-going canoes (waka). Some of these traditions name a mythical homeland called Hawaiki.

Among these is the story of Kupe, who had eloped with Kuramarotini, the wife of Hoturapa, the owner of the great canoe Matahourua, whom Kupe had murdered. To escape punishment for the murder, Kupe and Kura fled in Matahourua and discovered a land he called Aotearoa ('long-white-cloud'). He explored its coast and killed the sea monster Te Wheke-a-Muturangi, finally returning to his home to spread news of his newly discovered land.Other stories of various tribes report migrations to escape famine, over-population, and warfare. These were made in legendary canoes, the best known of which are Aotea, Te Arawa, Kurahaupō, Mātaatua, Tainui, Tākitimu, and Tokomaru. Various traditions name numerous other canoes. Some, including the Āraiteuru, are well known; others including the Kirauta and the sacred Arahura and Mahangaatuamatua are little known. Rather than arriving in a single fleet, the journeys may have occurred over several centuries.

Māori music

Traditional Māori music, or Te Pūoro Māori is composed or performed by Māori, the native people of New Zealand, and includes a wide variety of folk music styles, often integrated with poetry and dance.

In addition to these traditions and musical heritage, since the 19th-century European colonisation of New Zealand Māori musicians and performers have adopted and interpreted many of the imported Western musical styles. Contemporary rock and roll, soul, reggae and hip hop all feature a variety of notable Māori performers.

Māori naming customs

Before the 1800s, Māori children would be called by one given name (simple or composite). These names were attributed to remarkable events around birth. Later in life a person might be given a new name relating to subsequent events.

Māori religion

Māori religion encompasses the various religious beliefs and practices of the Māori, the Polynesian indigenous people of New Zealand.

Taha Māori

Taha Māori is a New Zealand phrase, used in both Māori and New Zealand English

It means "the Māori side (of a question)" or "the Māori perspective" as opposed to the Pākehā or European side or perspective.

In many New Zealand families, particularly those established for two or three generations or more, there has been intermarriage between Māori and Pākehā. This means that a large proportion of people born in New Zealand are of mixed descent, both Māori and Pākehā. The Taha Māori refers not to their ancestry so much as to the customs of their Māori ancestors and appropriateness of both acknowledging and following these customs.

For many years Pākehā custom and usage has been dominant in New Zealand. However, since about the 1980s the place of Māori custom in New Zealand society has been increasingly recognized, albeit reluctantly, by many sections of the populace.

A person who accepts their Taha Māori will often try to live according to Tikanga Māori.

Tangata whenua

In New Zealand, tangata whenua (Māori pronunciation: [ˈtaŋata ˈfɛnʉ.a]) is a Māori term that literally means "people of the land". It can refer to either a specific group of people with historical claims to a district, or more broadly the Māori people as a whole.

Te Puni Kōkiri

Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), the Ministry of Māori Development, is the public service department charged with advising the government on policies and issues affecting the Māori community; promoting Māori achievement in health, training and employment, education and economic development; and monitoring the provision of government services to Māori. The name means "a group moving forward together".

Tikanga Māori

Tikanga is a Māori concept with a wide range of meanings — culture, custom, ethic, etiquette, fashion, formality, lore, manner, meaning, mechanism, method, protocol, style.

Generally taken to mean "the Māori way of doing things", it is derived from the Māori word tika meaning 'right' or 'correct'.

From about the 1980s it began to appear in common New Zealand English because of new laws that specified the need for consultation with local iwi (tribal) representatives in many major fields such as resource management.

On 2 July 2011, the Waitangi Tribunal released its report into the Wai 262 claim, Ko Aotearoa Tēnei ("This is Aotearoa (New Zealand)"). The report considers more than 20 Government departments and agencies and makes recommendations as to reforms of "laws, policies or practices relating to health, education, science, intellectual property, indigenous flora and fauna, resource management, conservation, the Māori language, arts and culture, heritage, and the involvement of Māori in the development of New Zealand’s positions on international instruments affecting indigenous rights."The second volume of the report contains a glossary of te reo Māori terms, including:

tikanga: traditional rules for conducting life, custom, method, rule, law

tikanga Māori: Māori traditional rules, cultureFor an interpretation of the conflicts between Tikanga Maori and Western/Pakeha jurisprudence, see the case of the burial of James Takamore.


Whakapapa (Māori pronunciation: [ˈfakapapa], Māori pronunciation: ['ɸa-]), or genealogy, is a fundamental principle in Māori culture. A person reciting their whakapapa proclaims their identity, places themselves in a wider context, and links themselves to land and tribal groupings and the mana of those.Experts in whakapapa can trace and recite a lineage not only through the many generations in a linear sense, but also between such generations in a lateral sense.


Whānau (Māori pronunciation: [ˈfaːnaʉ]) is a Māori-language word for extended family. It is sometimes also used in New Zealand English, particularly in official publications.In Māori society, the whānau is also a political unit, below the levels of hapū and iwi, and the word itself has other meanings: as a verb meaning to be born or give birth.


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