Nga patai e tino pataitia ana
Frequently asked questions


1. Why have Maori Language week?


  • Maori Language Week is a special time every year to focus on and encourage the use of Maori language.


2. When did Maori Language Week start?


  • In the early 1970s. Maori identified that the reo was in a state of decline and was in danger of dying out. On 14th September 1972, a 30,000 signature Maori language petition was presented to Parliament by Hana Jackson (Nga Tamatoa) and Lee Smith (Te Reo Maori Society). This was the forerunner to Maori Language Day (14 September) and, from 1975, Maori Language Week.


3. Who is it for?

  • Maori Language Week has been aimed at Maori language speakers, encouraging them to use the language often and everywhere. Recent Maori Language Week themes have focussed on practical use of te reo, including New Zealand Reo – New Zealand Pride (2003-2004); Kai – Food (2005); Hakinakina – Sport (2006); Tourism – Tapoi (2007); Te Reo i te Kainga – Maori Language in the Home (2008) and Te Reo i te Hapori – Maori Language in the Community (2009).

4. I'm not Maori, why should I learn Maori?

  • Maori language permeates New Zealand culture, which language helps to define. The Maori language helps give Aotearoa a distinct and unique identity. Many New Zealanders appreciate this when they travel overseas. Knowledge of Maori language also provides a greater understanding of our history. Correct pronunciation is an first step in learning a language. 

5. It's a dying language, isn't it? There isn't really much point in learning Maori language?

  • Research shows that the health of the language is stabilising after decades of decline. The task now is to focus on revitalisation. For Maori to thrive, it must be used everyday. The 2006 Census shows that the Maori population will increase significantly over the next twenty years. In line with this growth is an increased demand for Maori language classes from Maori and non-Maori.

6. Wouldn’t it be more useful to know another language which is spoken by people overseas?

  • While English is the predominant language in New Zealand, knowledge of Maori language is about maintaining our unique identity. While knowledge of other languages allows us to operate in other countries, for many Maori it's important to maintain our identity.

7. Every week should be Maori Language Week, why have one week?

  • For many Maori every week is Maori Language Week and every day is Maori Language Day. Maori Language Week is a time for the wider community to get involved and use the language, even if it is as simple as saying the greeting ‘Kia ora’.

8. Is Maori really a language for all New Zealanders?

  • Yes, it can be. It is part of our identity. Some New Zealanders may not realise it but we are exposed to it daily.

9. It's okay for other people, but don't force it on me!

  • Learning Maori language is not compulsory, however, it is an official language of New Zealand. Many government departments offer services bilingually, including: Department of Internal Affairs; Work and Income; the Immigration Service; Housing New Zealand; ACC and the Police. Many names of people and places are Maori. Also more Maori words are becoming part of every day speech in New Zealand e.g. kia ora, haka, kai, whanau.

10. I'm too old to learn.

  • You are never too old to learn, it's never too late to start. Kia kaha ra.

11. What can I do to ensure Maori language does not die?

  • The best thing to do is use it. This may mean learning Maori or using what language you have regularly. If you don't want to learn Maori but want to assist, you can help by supporting and creating positive environments for the language.

12. What resources are available for Maori Language Week?

  • We produce several resources each year. They include a wallet sized greeting card, t-shirts, a poster and the annual Korero Maori - Give it a Go booklet. Many organisations produce their own resources for Maori Language Week.

13. Where can I learn Maori?

  • Most high schools and tertiary training institutions offer Maori language classes. Many community groups offer training to their members e.g. Te Ataarangi, kohanga reo. Some people hire personal tutors. Here are some courses available in your area.

He whakaaro ano mo Te Wiki o te Reo Maori
More ideas for Maori Language Week

Maori Language Week is made possible through the support and co-operation of:
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori – Maori Language Commission
Te Puni Kokiri – Ministry of Maori Development
Te Kahui Tika Tangata – Human Rights Commission