Kia ora te reo - Māori Language Week theme announced

Next year’s Māori Language Week will have the theme of ‘Kia ora te reo’. 

It will take place later in the year, in the week of September 11-17.

Māori Language Commission Chief Executive Ngahiwi Apanui says the theme was chosen to celebrate New Zealand’s indigenous greeting, but also because the words ‘Kia Ora’ are an exact description of the intent of the new partnership for te reo Māori revitalisation between the Crown and Māori.

“The new Māori Language Act 2016 sets up a new organisation, Te Mātāwai, to lead revitalisation among Māori. The Māori Language Commission will concentrate on the public sector and wider New Zealand. Together we will ensure that the Māori language has ‘ora’ - life, health and vitality - which is what we convey every time we say ‘kia ora’.

“The Oxford Dictionary of New Zealand English says the greeting became common in non-Māori use in New Zealand from about the 1890s. This may have been triggered by a huge gas-illuminated sign set up in Auckland’s Shortland Street in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s jubilee. It stretched the whole length of the LD Nathan and Son warehouse frontage and said ‘Kia Ora Kuini Wikitōria’. It also appeared in English company and farm names.

“And at this time of year more than a hundred years ago, the Premier, Richard Seddon sent out a Christmas card saying  ‘Kia ora and Christmas Greetings’ and using other Māori language and Māori themes.

“We have a lot to celebrate in the history and survival of te reo Māori. “Kia ora te reo Māori’ will in 2017 be the focus of that celebration”.