New Zealanders are being invited to be part of history and help shape the future as the Māori Language Commission seeks to set a new world record with its award-winning Māori Language Moment.
“Last year 1 million New Zealanders celebrated te reo with us, this year we are hoping to see 2 million New Zealanders celebrating with us,” said commission chief executive, Ngahiwi Apanui.
“Te reo Māori is still an endangered language. We need everyone’s help to ensure it is safe for future generations.”
“As New Zealanders proved in 2021: te reo Māori is something that unites us no matter who are, or where we live.”
The commission will host a virtual moment at 12pm on Tuesday 14th September 2021. After registering online via www.reomaori.co.nz, participants can celebrate te reo from wherever they are, in whatever way they wish. In 2020 1,058,356 people sang, recited poetry, paddled waka ama, prayed and celebrated their way into history.
“We also want to set the world record for people speaking and celebrating an endangered, indigenous language at the same time. Last year more than 1 million people joined us for our Māori Language Moment, this year we want to see 2 million of us gathered together.”
The commission will be registering its world record attempt with the Guinness Book of World Records. A Colmar Brunton poll in December 2020 revealed that 8 in 10 Kiwis see te reo as part of their national identity.
For most of the 20th century the New Zealand government made it socially unacceptable to openly speak te reo Māori by discouraging and banning the language. Māori children were physically punished for speaking te reo at school and within a generation, the language was endangered. Peaceful protest and activism saw te reo made an official language in 1987, the same year the commission was established to help revitalise the language.
“It takes one generation to lose a language and three to get it back. If we are to safeguard te reo we need 1 million speakers by 2040,” said Māori Language Commissioner, Professor Rawinia Higgins.
“A key contributor to the death of a language is societal attitudes.”
“Our Māori Language Moment is about gathering as a nation to say we value our indigenous language. We also mark the moment the petition was presented to parliament in 1972. This is about coming together to reflect on our past, acknowledge where we are now and prepare for our shared future.”
“It is about us standing together as New Zealanders and saying we want to protect our language for future generations because te reo is the language of our nation.”
The inaugural moment in 2020 has been recognised globally as a leading initiative, most recently winning eight golds at the annual UN-endorsed, IPRA Golden World Awards (International Public Relations Awards) in London. In February Professor Higgins was elected to the UN Global Taskforce for the Decade of Indigenous Languages which begins next year.