An Open Letter to Aotearoa ahead of Māori Language Week 2023

Kia ora

I thought long and hard about how to respond to the cries from some to limit our language. Their cries aren’t new, they’re as old as New Zealand. But how we respond to them has changed. I don’t need to convince you that New Zealanders love te reo Māori: because New Zealanders are showing their love for te reo by walking the talk.

Whether some like it, or agree with it, or not. People all over Aotearoa, young and old, Māori and non-Māori are preparing to celebrate te reo. 

Here are just a few of the numerous events from the far north to the deep south that New Zealanders are planning for Māori Language Week.

From the tail of the fish, in the north Mangawhai Beach School will be singing

MOTAT will be telling te reo tales in the city of sails, Westfield St Luke’s will unveil te reo art and Manurewa High will be celebrating all week

In Coromandel Māori Conversationalists are conversing in Tairua and Māori Waiata Ukuleles will be jamming in Te Awamutu

Across to Rotorua where health workers have a kura reo and over to Te Puke Library for stories in te reo and New Zealand sign language

Further east to Tokomaru  Four Square and their Rārangi Kai shopping list translator

To the great lake for free te reo lessons at Taupō District Council

West to Taranaki where Puke Ariki and Inglewood Library are collaborating on art

And east again, to Heretaunga where Napier Boys' High are competing in haka

South to Palmerston North for karaoke te reo at Massey University

To the eye of Maui’s fish in Wairarapa where they’re debating in te reo

South to Pōneke for Hutt City Council’s kapa haka and kai and the Māori Market at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington.

Across the waters and the tamariki at Picton Community Early Learning are singing and reading

to Christchurch for the Waitaha Secondary School Regional Kapa Haka Competitions

Further south to Timaru where elders will be gaming thanks to Te Aitarakihi a Iwi

Down to Dunedin to find the te reo hidden throughout  Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Step over to Fiordland where students creating graffiti art for te wiki

And across the water to Stewart Island where the children at Halfmoon Bay, like the children of Kaipara 1000 kilometres away, will also be celebrating te reo.

It’s not just communities, it’s companies too. From our airlines to our airwaves, our banks to our buses. 

In 50 years we have gone from protests protecting our language, to parades promoting it.

Te reo is unique to us. It comes from here, it belongs here and it should make all of us know we are home. 

My hope is that New Zealanders will continue to make te reo feel like it is at home.


Kia kaha te reo Māori!

Kia kaha Aotearoa!

Kia Eke Ngā Wā!


Professor Rawinia Higgins

Māori Language Commissioner


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