The Te Reo Māori Claim - WAI11 (1985)

Nga Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo (Wellington Board of Māori Language) is a voluntary organisation set up to promote te reo. At a meeting in 1983 it established New Zealand’s first Māori radio station to celebrate Māori Language Week. At the same meeting it decided to take a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in the name of founding member, Huirangi Waikerepuru.

The claim was called ‘WAI11’ (as the 11th claim lodged in the newly established Waitangi Tribunal) and it would have a resounding  impact on the revitalisation of te reo Māori. In 1985 the WAI11 claim to the Waitangi Tribunal asserted that te reo was a taonga (treasure) that the Crown (government) was obliged to protect under the Treaty of Waitangi. The tribunal found in favour of the claimants and recommended a number of legislative and policy remedies. These recommendations were addressed in 1987 with the Māori Language Act.

The Māori Language Act (1987)

The Māori Language Act (1987) declared Māori to be an official language of New Zealand and established our organisation, the Māori Language Commission (later Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori). 

We were set up to give effect to the official status of te reo, to register translators and interpreters and to provide for the use of te reo Māori in court proceedings. We are an autonomous Crown entity and responsible to Parliament for the use of public funds to support our objectives. 

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The Māori Language Act (2016)

The Māori Language Act 2016 replaced the Māori Language Act 1987 and affirms the status of te reo as the indigenous language of New Zealand, protected under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  It also reinforces the commitment between the Crown and Māori to work together to revitalise te reo Māori.

Under the act the Crown:  

“acknowledges the detrimental effects of its past policies and practices that have, over the generations, failed actively to protect and promote the Māori language and encourage its use by iwi and Māori” and “expresses its commitment to work in partnership with iwi and Māori to continue actively to protect and promote this taonga, the Māori language, for future generations”.

The act also established Te Mātāwai to represent and support language revitalisation among Māori, iwi and communities. Responsibility for Crown-funded grants for revitalisation (such as the Mā te Reo fund) was transferred to Te Mātāwai.

Our organisation leads the coordination of the Maihi Karauna, a cross-government role greatly expanding its influence.

The act exists in a te reo Māori version and an English language version, with the reo Māori version prevailing as law.

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Te Whare o te Reo Mauriora

Māori Language Strategy

A partnership for the revitalisation of te reo Māori