18 November 2020

Media Release

Language Veteran Huirangi Waikerepuru Takes Top Honour at Māori Language Awards 2011

A veteran language advocate – Huirangi Waikerepuru; a small, low decile school in Gisborne – Kaiti School; a long standing national total immersion language course – Kura Reo; and an iwi, Te Reo o Taranaki, all took out the top awards at the Māori Language Awards, held in Rotorua this evening.

Huirangi Waikerepuru received the Taku Toa Takimano award, which recognises an individuals contribution to the language.

As the head of Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo Māori, he spearheaded two claims. The first was Te Reo Māori claim in the early eighties and focussed on the need for recognition of te reo Māori as an official language. The claim led to the passing of the Māori Language Act in 1987 and the establishment of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. From the late eighties through to 1993 Huirangi, again with Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau, worked with the NZ Māori Council on a Privy Council case, arguing that the government should recognise and protect Māori language as a taonga under Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relation to the allocation of broadcasting assets. This later led to the establishment of the Māori broadcasting agency, Te Māngai Pāho and ultimately Māori Television.

“Huirangi is a passionate and humble man, whose contributions to language revitalisation will stand in our history as perhaps the most significant language achievements in the last forty years. We would have been remiss in not acknowledging his vision and leadership in that time, as such he is truly deserved of this honour” says CE, Glenis Philip-Barbara.

Kura Reo, a total immersion language course and Te Reo o Taranaki were joint recipients of Te Tira Aumangea award given to a group or organisation in recognition of their efforts towards language revitalisation.

Each year a series of four, week long Kura Reo, aimed at intermediate to fluent speakers of te reo Māori, are held at four key locations across the country. These locations include Rotorua, Heretaunga (Hastings), Waipukurau, and Christchurch. The Kura Reo are held in the first week of each school holiday break and are conducted completely in te reo Māori. This series of wānanga has been running for over twenty years.

Initially Te Reo o Taranaki, established well over twenty years ago, had a simple premise – to drive efforts towards revitalising language within their communities and in the main ran wānanga, waiata classes and other community and marae based courses aimed at increasing language acquisition amongst its people. This has grown over the years to a Taranaki Māori Language Strategy which seeks to revitalise the Taranaki dialect and normalise the language throughout the rohe.

“Both the Kura Reo and Te Reo o Taranaki initiatives epitomise language excellence, growth and increased use, and these are priority areas in language revitalisation. Their combined historical contribution to the language is considerable and we encourage and support their future endeavours”, says Glenis Philip-Barbara.

The Supreme winner for the contestable categories was Kaiti School.

“What made their entry special and inspiring was the fact that much of what they did was determined and driven by the kids and not the adults. They really captured the spirit of manaakitanga in this year’s Māori Language Week theme and in the end that’s what won the judges over”, says Glenis Philip-Barbara.

Other category winners include:

Private Sector: Tokoroa New World; Community: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Charitable Trust (Tauranga) and Te Reo o Taranaki Charitable Trust; Local Government: Wellington City Council; Government: Department of Corrections; Broadcasting – Mainstream: TVNZ; Broadcasting – Māori Media: Tūmanako Productions (Auckland); Print: The Gisborne Herald; Education – Mainstream: Tokoroa High School; Education – Māori Medium: Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai (Rotorua); Tertiary: Massey University; Māori Language Week: Kaiti School (Gisborne); Māori Language Week – Inaugural: Insoll Avenue School (Hamilton).

Contact: Debra Jensen – 04 471 6725, 027 231 4297, 




Māori Language Week is made possible with the support of:

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori – Māori Language Commission
Te Puni Kōkiri – Ministry of Māori Development
Te Kāhui Tika Tangata – Human Rights Commission