The Māori Language Commission has marked the kōhanga reo movement’s 40th birthday by sending koha and toolkete to language nests across the country and inviting former and present staff, children and whānau to collect stories for the Aotearoatanga: Stories of te Reo Māori campaign.
“40 years ago the first kōhanga reo opened in Wainuiomata at a time when te reo wasn’t even an official language of Aotearoa. The vision of those elders, teachers and families has changed history and helped safeguard te reo Māori,” said Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori CEO, Ngahiwi Apanui.
“We want to ensure the voices and memories of our kōhanga families are recorded for future generations.”
“Our koha for tamariki include unique activity books where our babies can colour in images of Māori language protest marches, the Māori language petition and our more recent parades: they are the youngest members of a movement that was created with them in mind.”
The commission is also inviting kōhanga and kōhanga whānau to join the Aotearoatanga: Stories of te Reo Māori for 2022 by recording their own stories of te reo Māori.
“Te reo is the language of Aotearoa. For Māori it is both an anchor to our past and a compass navigating our way forward,” said Mr Apanui.
“To safeguard te reo for our mokopuna by 2040 we want to see 150,000 Māori people aged 15 and over speaking te reo as much as English: the countdown is on and kōhanga as always have a key role to play as the babies of today are our speakers of tomorrow.”
The commission is inviting former students, teachers and whānau to join in the nationwide Stories of te Reo campaign by recording their own stories so they can be passed on.
“We want to help ensure the stories of our kōhanga families, past and present, are recorded for future generations. Why did you decide to take your child to kōhanga reo? What are your first memories of kōhanga reo? Who was the last native speaker of te reo before you sent your baby to kōhanga?”
This year marks a series of key Māori language milestones and the commission is inviting everyone to record their own story, memory, poem or artwork as part of the Aotearoatanga: Stories of te Reo Māori campaign.
To share your story of te reo Māori, go to www.reomaori.co.nz.