New Zealand celebrated the Māori Language Week between 27 July and 2 August this year. It is a tradition ever since 1975 - and 2015 marks the 40th Anniversary! The celebration is a nice initiative to conserve and promote linguistic diversity and encourage the daily use of more Māori words.
The main topic is "Whāngaihia te reo Māori ki ngā mātua" - helping parents to pass te reo (the language) on to their children. :)
Although most of the speakers are ethnic Māoris, many New Zealanders use Māori words and expressions mixed within the English language, like “Kia ora” - Hello.
The first Māori settlers came by canoes from the Eastern Polynesian islands and villages - the mythic homeland “Hawaiki” - around 1280. Māori developed in isolation until the 19th century. It was the dominant language in New Zealand, yet not a written one until the arrival of European Missionaries who attempted to write it down first in 1814.
Despite the fact that Te reo Māori - the Māori language became protected under the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, signed by the British Crown and Māori chiefs, the increasing use of English and politics put the state of the Māori language at risk - at one point, it was even suppressed and forbidden in schools to facilitate faster assimilation of the Māoris. In the middle of the 20th century, there were fears that Māori was actually dying out! The recognition of the danger of loosing the language led to recovery and revitalisation. The Māori language became an official language of New Zealand only in 1987 with the passing of the Māori Language Act.
Some quick facts:
Some useful words to know when you are in New Zealand:
It was actually very interesting to see that many parenting resources f.ex., such as brochures on early childhood development and education used a mixture of both languages. Here is an extract of one of them:
If you would like to know more about the Māori language, here are some nice links to start with:
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