An open letter to Aotearoa from the Māori Language Commission

Our tikanga changed forever this week.

Manaakitanga means to extend aroha, love and compassion.
Manaakitanga now means staying at home and staying away.
This is the best way we can manaaki other people.
Manaakitanga means buying what you need at the supermarket: it doesn’t mean buying so much kai that there is nothing left for others.
Manaakitanga means checking in on your elders and your loved ones: think of others.
Manaakitanga means being kind, being on to it and being prepared. 

Being prepared for the future means learning from the past. The last pandemic to hit Aotearoa, saw us lose thousands of lives. Many Māori communities were decimated. In Sāmoa, the 1918 influenza epidemic saw 20% of the population lost. As our Prime Minister said this afternoon: we want to do all we can to make sure history is not repeated.

So all of us must show leadership, we must be prepared and importantly: we must show manaakitanga.

Last week we made the call for staff who are high risk: to work from home until further notice. And like all other workplaces, from now on we will work from home until further notice.

We’ve adapted an old proverb to fit today’s challenge.

“He whare tū i te wā he kai nā te ahi; he whare tū i te pā he tohu nō te rangatira”

“A prepared house shows leadership. An unprepared house is asking for it.”


Ngahiwi Apanui
Māori Language Commission