New Zealand is celebrating Maori Language Week, which is aimed at conserving the language which was on the verge of extinction. It encourages New Zealanders to speak the Maori language proudly.
Held in the third week of September this is an annual celebration. This year from September 12 to 19, New Zealanders will be celebrating ‘Maori Language Week’. It is a government-sponsored initiative which is also called ‘Te Wiki o te Reo Māori’.
As part of the initiative, the New Zealanders and the global community are encouraged to learn the language to get a peek into the rich culture of the region. The celebrations involve nationwide events to exhibit the multiculturalism of New Zealand.
Initiatives to promote Maori
Several efforts have been taken to popularise the Maori language. Google Māori — a Māori-language version of the popular search engine was launched in 2008 during the annual Maori Week Celebration. In 2017 “Moana”, a Disney film was translated into Maori and premiered in Auckland as part of the celebrations that year.
On September 14 in 2021 a unique record was set when 1.1 million people joined a campaign to speak Māori at the same time.
A government-funded channel- Maori television broadcasts primarily in Maori since 2004. In 1996 there were 160,000 Māori speakers while in 2013 a total of 125,352 had a conversational level of proficiency in Maori.
Appalled by the declining number of Maori speakers in New Zealand in the early 1970s many people signed a petition for the Māori Language. The petition which was organized by the Te Reo Maori Society was signed by approximately 30,000 people. On September 14, 1972, it was presented to the Parliament. In 1975 this day was recognized as Māori Language Day. In the same year, Maori Language Week started to be celebrated.
Maori was made the first de jure official language of New Zealand in 1987.