Let's celebrate Māori Language Week!

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori begins Monday 11 September, with the theme 'kia ora te reo Māori'. In this post, we share some great resources for celebrating te reo in your school. We also have ideas for ensuring your school library supports te reo Māori throughout the year.

Kia ora te reo Māori!

Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori. Ko te kupu te mauri o te reo Māori. E rua ēnei wehenga kōrero e hāngai tonu ana ki runga i te reo Māori. Ko te reo, nō te Atua mai.

The language is the life force of the mana Māori. The word is the life force of the language. These two ideas are crucial to the Māori language. A language that is a gift from God.

— Sir James Clendon Tau Henare (1911–1989)

In Aotearoa, we have the great fortune to encounter a wealth of languages and cultures in our daily lives. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) provides an opportunity to explore and celebrate te reo Māori for all New Zealanders.

This year's theme invites all of us to say "kia ora te reo Māori", and welcome the language into our classrooms and hearts.

Cover image and spread for the book 'I Aha Koe?' na Wol Jobson nga pikitiaHe Purapura — I Aha Koe? by Wol Jobson. 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Celebrate Māori Language Week in your school

Here are some ideas you can use to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori in your school.

  • Set up a display of the books and resources you currently have in te reo Māori.
  • Investigate and display some of the resources from Te Tauri Whiria i te Reo Māori or Te Kete Ipurangi in your library or classroom. They can be also be used as interesting starters for writing poetry, prose or creating posters.
  • Print out or post whakataukī (Māori proverbs) in your library for students to discuss, illustrate and reflect on.
  • Hand out te reo colouring-in sheets from Christchurch City Libraries.
  • Look for local events, at marae and public libraries, that your students can get involved in.
  • Get involved in some of the colourful Māori language parades and celebrations held throughout Aotearoa. Or how about hosting an event yourself?
  • Find a te reo speaker to come and read to your students, so they can hear and enjoy the sound of te reo Māori.
  • How about a movie? The te reo Māori version of Moana will also be shown in theatres around the country during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

A wealth of resources to support Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

There are many digital resources that you can use in your school throughout Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and beyond. Here's some you might find useful:

Resources from Services to Schools and the National Library

  • The Topic Explorer set Te Reo Māori contains a wealth of online resources, including the history and importance of the Māori language.
  • For Year 5–10 students, Many Answers offers a comprehensive set of te reo Māori links including history, revival, learning te reo and suitable dictionaries and books.
  • DigitalNZ has content about te reo — search for 'te reo' and you (or your students) can create your own sets of photos, articles, audio etc. These are useful for a variety of teaching and learning activities — from looking at the history of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori to getting students to create te reo Māori digital stories.

Pukapuka from the National Library's Schools Collection

Let's not forget books. Here's a small taster from our schools lending service.

Te Pāmu o Koro (Old MacDonald had a Farm) nā Donovan Bixley, 2017 — This nice, rhyming rollick through the countryside is suitable for new entrants to year 1. There's a picture and word guide tucked inside and sheet music at the end to sing along to.

Timo te Kaihī Ika (Timo and the Kingfish) nā Mokena Potae Reedy, 2012 — A simple, fun read for years 3 to 6, with some insight into Māori culture and identity.

The Singing Dolphin nā Mere Whaanga, 2017 — With its helpful format (te reo Māori on one page and a translation on the other) and interesting illustrations, this book tells a great contemporary, local story for years 4 to 6. There's also a helpful glossary at the back.

Te Tanguruhau (The Gruffalo) nā Julia Donaldson, 2013 — A deep, dark forest, the world's best-loved picture book monster and a small mouse. Here's an exciting tale for adventurous year 3 to 6 readers.

Kaua e Tuku mā te Kukupa te Pahi e Taraiwa! (Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! ) nā Mo Willems, 2016 — From this contemporary classic comes good advice, served with dry humour. For the young-at-heart, it's also a successful recipe for learning.

Hairy Maclary no te Tēri a Tānarahana (Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy) nā Lynley Dodd, 2014 — Another classic complete with great characters and a storyline with panache and simplicity. Suitable for new entrants to year 1.

Other digital resources

  • Te Whanake — a set of textbooks, study guides, CDs, teachers' manuals and a dictionary for learning and teaching Māori language. This website also provides access to other free online resources for independent learning and interaction.
  • Speak Māori — study the basics of the Māori language, through online video movie lessons. Learn to korero or speak te reo Māori.
  • Māori Language.net — a range of resources including:
  • Māori Television — provides an excellent range of te reo Māori programming, with 14 language learning shows including SpongeBob SquarePants.

Mahi tahi in your school, library and community

Your community is a great place to get support to use te reo Māori in your school and library. You can make connections with teachers, families, whānau, local iwi, marae, and other kura and schools in your area. That way you can help ensure your school and library reflect Aotearoa's rich cultural and linguistic heritage.

Here are some ideas you might want to use:

  • Keep on building an inclusive collection — including books and other resources in te reo Māori.
  • Take advantage of resources and support from Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body that represents Māori engaged in libraries, culture knowledge and information. They have a range of useful resources for making library spaces more inclusive, including guidance on signage and a list of words commonly found in libraries and their te reo Māori equivalents.
  • Be mindful of using macrons correctly. A quick way to create macrons is to hit the top left key with the tilde (~), then hit ‘a’ and the macron will magically appear. Try it now: whanau > whānau.

Ka kite apopo te reo!

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is a great way to celebrate te reo in Aotearoa New Zealand and acknowledge Māori culture and heritage. It's also a great opportunity help young people reflect on their culture and identity. While we are encouraged to greet in te reo during Māori Language Week, make it a point to celebrate te reo tomorrow and into the future.

From fun activities to increasing access to multicultural books and resources in your library, think about how you can say "kia ora te reo Māori" in your school every day.

Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria.

My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.

By Nicole Gaston

Nicole is an Online Content Services Developer for Services to Schools.

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