Early birthday present for Māori Language Commission

The Māori Language Commission says the latest statistics showing te reo Māori is supported and spoken by more people than ever before is an early birthday present.

“We turn 35 in a month’s time, the same day that te reo became an official language of our country. To know that more of us value te reo and are speaking it in our everyday lives is an early birthday present,” says Ngahiwi Apanui, Tumu Whakahaere (Chief Executive) of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

“But it’s not a surprise present because we know the work of so many people over many years is why we are at this point today. The Battle for te reo has been fought in our communities, towns and families across Aotearoa, their passion is revitalising our language.”

“In 1975 less than 5% of Māori children spoke te reo: today almost a quarter of all Māori New Zealanders speak te reo as a first language. The journey our families have been on is epic.”

Tatauranga Aotearoa (Stats NZ) revealed today that since 2018 the ability of people to speak more than a few words or phrases of te reo had risen from 24 to 30 per cent.  

Mr Apanui paid tribute to young New Zealanders.

“We are now at a point where more than 4 in 10 New Zealanders under the age of 35 can speak more than a few words or phrases of te reo. This is an incredible place to be: this changes the future and what it is to be a New Zealander.”

“Today is a great day for Aotearoa. Kia kaha te reo Māori!”

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori first opened its doors on the 1st of August 1987, the same day te reo became an official language of New Zealand.