Tribute to wāhine toa who help keep te reo Māori strong

The Māori Language Commissioner has spoken out in support of a young Ngāpuhi woman who was mocked by a diner she was serving last week.

“Auckland teenager Mia Griffiths –  disrespected after she pronounced Māori words correctly while waitressing – embodies the Māori Language Week theme: ‘Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’,” said Professor Rawinia Higgins, Commissioner for te reo Māori.

“We are proud of this young wahine toa who acted with mana in the face of abuse: the Māori language exists today because of everyday people who have kept it strong, even when it’s not been easy: people like Mia.”

Thousands of New Zealanders are already gearing up to help celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Monday 9th – Sunday 15thSeptember) with 13,000 already registered to take part in seven hīkoi whakangahau or Māori Language parades in Wellington, Whāngarei, Takapuna, Gisborne, Maungakiekie, Manukau and Hamilton.

“Te reo Māori is a living, dynamic and rich language that people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds value. Last year the New York Times shared a beautiful story about residents at a Christchurch retirement home who were learning te reo. One eager student, a 93-year-old Pākehā kuia, said it had been one of the great regrets of her life that she hadn’t been able to speak te reo.”

“It’s been 35-years since another wāhine toa, Dame Naida Glavish risked her job at the Post Office Tolls board because she greeted callers with ‘Kia ora’ instead of ‘Good Morning’.”

“Both of these women chose to act with mana and grace: they also chose to keep our Māori language strong. Kia kaha te reo Māori.”

“Thousands of people have shown their support for Mia in the past few days and we encourage them to join us as we celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2019”, said Professor Higgins.