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Te Wiki o te Reo Māori allows for all New Zealanders, irrespective of their native tongue, to acknowledge the history and beauty of te reo. It is just disappointing that there is not the same acknowledgement of te reo—one of our three official languages—all year round.
I have enjoyed listening to the daily conversations that Guyon Espiner and Mihingarangi Forbes have been having on Radio New Zealand about ways that we can begin to incorporate te reo into everyday language. Māori words, e.g. ka pai or haere mai, are often used in isolation, but Forbes has suggested that we should incorporate these words into sentences:
Kei te haere koe ki hea? Where are you going?
Kei te whare pukapuka ia. I am going to the library
Ka pai koe! Well done!
It is sad that these simple sentences and phrases are only used by a small percentage of New Zealanders, with only 3.7% of Māori being able to hold an everyday conversation in te reo.
This year I have picked up a couple of introductory te reo papers—101 and 102—which have been some of the most interesting and enjoyable of my degree. Having just this basic understanding of the language has opened up a whole new dimension to my sense of identity as a Pākehā New Zealander.
There have long been calls to introduce te reo as a compulsory subject at school, and I am right behind this. Why would we not consider it valuable and essential for young New Zealanders to be brought up speaking the indigenous language of our country alongside English?
He waka eke noa! A canoe which we are all in with no exception!