Kia ora bro…

I’m guessing that the most well-known Māori word or phrase would be ‘kia ora’ (and some might add bro on the end as if that’s standard). Once upon a time it might have been ‘oma rapeti’ (run rabbit). Who didn’t learn the song about the rabbit that needed to run at kindy or primary school?

Between 1900 & 1960 the number of Māori fluent in the Māori language decreased from 95% to 25%. (Ki te Whaiao, pg 203)

That’s a really big loss!

Enter stage left Nga Tamatoa – a  group of mainly urban and university educated Māori who were offended by continuing confiscation of land and degradation of the Māori language. The group was inspired by international liberation and indigenous movements.

In September 1972 Nga Tamatoa presented the crown with a petition containing 30,ooo signatures for Māori language to be taught in schools.

Members of Nga Tamatoa sitting on the steps of Parliament in 1972

1975 Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa initiate Whakatipuranga Rua Mano, a tribal development exercise which emphasises Māori language development.

By 1976 123 high schools were recorded as teaching Māori language as a curriculum subject.

In 1979 Te Ataarangi Movement was established. It was a community initiative to teach Māori language to  adults.

‘It’s official!’ – The Māori Language Act was passed in 1987 and this recognised Te Reo Māori as an official language of New Zealand. At the same time Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) was established.

A big player in the revitalisation of the Māori Language is  Te Kōhanga Reo which was born in 1982. Te Kōhanga Reo is a total immersion Māori language family programme for young children from birth to six years of age. It is an environment of total emmersion for the children and whanau (family) are an important part of the learning process.


Keeping in mind the idea of activism as provoking action to bring change, Nga Tamatoa, Te Ataarangi Movement and Te Kohanga Reo have been key movers and shakers to bring about change.

I wonder what the state of Te Reo Māori would be if it weren’t them and others who couldn’t stand by and watch their language disappear and with it their culture, tradition and treasures.

My next post will have a little look at some the individuals who are provocative in their attitude and action towards Te Reo Māori.

Further Resources


Maori Language Commission – Research

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