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August 10, 2014 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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University Issues

One of the current issues that seems to be the currently most debated in the Māori world is the normalisation of te reo Māori in all facets of life. There seems to be two factions: those who support a normalisation of te reo Māori in Aotearoa as a whole; and those who support the idea that te reo Māori is for Māori, and must be almost reverently treated. Personally, I agree with the former more than the latter. A language cannot survive, grow and thrive if it is relegated to ceremonial purposes or restricted to private homes. E ora ai te reo, me kōrero i ngā wāhi katoa.

In relating to this Māori-wide issue, we can focus an aspect of it towards the university context. Can we, as New Zealanders, normalise te reo Māori in a tertiary institute? We see bilingual signs everywhere at Vic. I believe taiwhanga kauhau is the most widely used, seen on nearly every entranceway to the lecture theatres. Even Faculties and Schools have a Māori translation, such as Te Wāhanga Aronui (the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Te Kura Mātai Hinengaro (the School of Psychology). We have shown that we can translate signage. So what? It’s all good and dandy to tick off the “Yes, satisfied the minority” box, but what can Vic and we as students do to normalise te reo Māori?

The more people are exposed to any language, the more they are normalised to it. If you go to France, you are expected to encounter French at any point in your travels. Why not the same for Māori? This is New Zealand, the country internationally famous for haka, tā moko and fierce, brown warriors. We are famous for BEING MĀORI. However, when push comes to shove, the Government does not support cultural re-genesis as much as it should. But is it the Government’s fault? No. It is all of ours. Te reo Māori cannot be revitalised in a day, but we can at least expose as many people as possible to it, can we not? Te Taura Whiri’s new idea for Te Reo Māori Week, of introducing people to one ‘new’ Māori word a week, is one strategy that allows us as agents of cultural regenesis to normalise the language.

TL;DR: My university issue is the representation of te reo Māori at Victoria. Te reo Māori is still on the rocks and it is with us as University students and as the University as a whole to normalise the language and help with its revitalisation.

 

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