Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

This year, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) runs from 14-20th September (Mahuru). It’s theme remains the same: ‘Kia kaha te reo Māori’ – ‘Let’s make the Māori language strong’. Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori has been celebrated since 1975 and continues to grow, and now it’s even easier to participate anywhere in the world, with comprehensive online resources. The Māori Language Commission (the organisation behind Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori) is aiming to have one million speakers by 2040. So why not start now?

Like many others, I have had “learn te reo Māori” on my to-do list for years. I have always been able to count in te reo Māori, I knew basic greetings and a few colours – but I really wanted to raise my level to conversational, and maybe one day fluency. I finally messaged an old high school friend on Facebook and humbly asked where to start. I checked out my options and enrolled in Papa Reo – a level 1 home-based te reo Māori course provided free by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. I completed it earlier this year, and am awaiting my level three Tikanga (customs and traditional values) course to begin.

As someone who is both Tauiwi (a foreigner from afar) and Pākehā, I am careful to recognise what a privilege it is to be able to learn te reo Māori at my own leisure, when less than 50 years ago, children were punished for speaking it. There’s still mamae (pain) around this, so please don’t be offended if you are not instantly met with praise for your newfound interest in te reo. It was only 1987 when te reo Māori became an official language, after a 1985 Waitangi Tribunal claim ruled in favour of te reo Māori being a taonga (treasure) and therefore protected under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi. It is my commitment to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi that brings me back to my learning, even when it gets tough.

I now practice daily using the apps and Kupu and Drops opening and closing each work day with karakia (prayer) and waiata (song). I’ve still got plenty of work to do before I’m not startled by a question worded slightly differently to how I’ve memorised, but I do get excited when I can understand the gist of a kōrero (conversation) at work, or recognise a phone number recited to me in te reo Māori. This year, for the first time, I’ve signed up for Mahuru Maori, a challenge for all levels of reo speakers to only kōrero Māori from anywhere from one hour a day, through the whole month of Mahuru.

Follow @everydaymaori on Instagram and join the Facebook Group A Māori Phrase a Day. Check out the endless printable resources for your home or office here and start practicing what phrases you’ll be using this Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. If you’re feeling cheeky, The Spinoff has collated this list of passive aggressive phrases to share whether you’re in the office or working from home. If you’re ready to take the next step in your reo journey, they also have a list of low-cost (or free) course providers here.

Some phrases I’ll be using this month:

He rate pīni koa?

Can I have a soy latte please?

Anei, taku kapu mahi rua.

Here is my reusable cup.

E pēhea ana tō rā?

How is your day going?

Mō taku hē, kei te ako tonu au i te reo Māori.

Sorry, I’m still learning te reo Māori.


Chanelle is a vegan, amateur athlete, social advocate, environmental enthusiast and blogger at mynameischanelle.com