Let's celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) begins on Monday 9 September/Mahuru. The theme is 'Kia kaha te reo Māori’ — ‘Let’s make the Māori language strong'.

In this post, we share some great ideas and resources for celebrating te reo Māori within your school and community.

People marching with banner in Te Wiki o te Reo Maori parade in Wellington
People marching with banner in Te Wiki o te Reo Maori parade in Wellington, 2018 by Dylan Owen.

Te kōrero Māori — your te reo goals

Strength for an endangered language comes from its status, people being aware of how to support revitalisation, people acquiring and using it and from the language having the right words and terms to be used well for any purpose.
— Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission)

What will be your personal te reo goal? How can your staff, students, parents/whānau, and local community support the integration of te reo Māori into everyday conversations and learning contexts?

We’ve compiled the following kete of ideas for you to explore and take your pick!

Community cultural events — check what’s happening

Find out what local and regional events are being held and promote in your school newsletter/pānui:

  • Contact your local council, marae, public library, other kura and schools. For example, look for kapa haka performances and learning of crafts such as raranga (weaving).
  • Check Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) for any regional events and downloadable resources.

Organise cultural activities and grow knowledge of protocol

For example:

  • Invite kaumātua from your local marae (see Māori maps) or iwi to visit your school and retell stories of the history of the area. Afterwards, students could write, illustrate, or dramatise their own retellings.
  • Play traditional games, e.g. Harko Brown’s Traditional Māori games (pdf 1.51MB) and TKI’s Hand games — tākaro ā-ringa.
  • Hold waiata sessions. You can also use YouTube music videos with lyrics printed on the screen.
  • Explore apps on protocols and basic language. For example, The Pepeha App helps you to introduce yourself and the Kawa Kōrero app provides guidance on attending a marae pōwhiri and hui, including waiata, mihimihi, and karakia.

Recognise words (kupu) and their meaning

A fun way to celebrate te reo Māori is to learn some useful words and phrases. You may like to create a Let’s learn Māori’ section in your school newsletter/pānui with a daily challenge. Some suggestions:

  • Test your knowledge of common words: Take the te reo Māori quiz with ten questions by Te Papa. Then check how well do you know te reo Māori compiled by Newshub from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s list of 100 words and phrases every New Zealander should know.
  • Download an image recognition app, for example, search the Apple App Store or Google Play for Kupu or Drops, which take a photo of an object. The app will identify the item/s and the Māori word/s will appear on your screen.
  • Play word games: Match a pile of photographs and words in te reo Māori. For example, TKI’s He reo tupu, he reo ora has resource sheets you can download, such as Tako Akomanga (pdf, 3.9MB) and Kai (pdf, 1.1MB).
  • Explore words on everyday themes to build usage: For example, Kupu o te Rā groups words under themes such as 'days of the week', 'colours', 'at school', 'at home'.
  • Find the te reo version of your favourite English word and share with others, e.g. smile (menemene). You can use the online Ngata Dictionary to type in an English or Māori word to find its equivalent.
  • Give tips for using macrons on keyboards.

Practice speaking words and phrases — kōrero Māori

  • Try having a kōrero during morning tea in the staffroom or ordering your latte in Māori when visiting a local café! Here's a handy Kawhe poster with words for coffee and tea.
  • Warm up by practising vowel sounds: a-e-i-o-u and splitting syllables, e.g. Ta-ra-na-ki. Have a look at Te Papa’s Four tips to help your te reo.
  • Know and use short greetings, sayings, and proverbs: Display posters to help people use teo reo Māori phrases in your library/classroom. For suggestions, see TKI's Useful language for the classroom and Massey University's Māori proverbs resource.
  • Practise saying Māori place names out loud. Check NZ History’s 1000 Māori place names which gives meaning and pronunciation tips. Then test each other on the longest place name, which is a hill in Hawke’s Bay — Taumatawhakatangihangakōauauotamateapōkaiwhenuakitānatahu.
  • Listen to iwi radio in your area and view Māori Television . Some of our favourite programmes are Tōku Reo, Kōrero Mai, Dora Mātātoa (Dora the Explorer), and Te Nūtube (also on YouTube).
  • Incorporate activities from TKI's Te reo Māori in English-medium schools to embed usage at school and at home.
Picture of place sign for Taumatawhakatangihangakōauauotamateapōkaiwhenuakitānatahu
The longest place name in the world by itravelNZ®. Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Tell stories

  • Invite a te reo speaker to read to your students, so they can hear and enjoy the rhythm and sound of te reo Māori. Have displays of te reo Māori books for students and teachers to explore.
  • Help staff, students, and parents/whānau to find and read stories about local history and Māoritanga by setting up displays from your library and teacher resource room. You can also incorporate resources from DigitalNZ in your displays to raise awareness about digitised resources they can read online such as articles, historical photographs, and maps.

Keep the momentum going

Explore ways your library and its resources — print, digital, and artefacts/taonga — can keep te reo Māori alive and thriving within your school community. You may like to set yourself personal goals for learning te reo Māori using the Ministry of Education’s learner goals as inspiration.

Explore ways your library and its resources — print, digital, and artefacts/taonga — can keep te reo Māori alive and thriving within your school community. You may like to set yourself personal goals for learning te reo Māori using the Ministry of Education’s learner goals as inspiration.

Kauwhata Reo is a new search website launched this Māori Language Week by the Ministry of Education. The website helps teachers (kaiako) and students (ākonga) search in one place to discover and access te reo Māori resources available elsewhere online. You can view the site in te reo Māori or in English:

You can also click a language-switch button on the right of a page to change the language anytime.

Our Services to Schools web content can also provide you with information on:

Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tīna!
Seek out the distant horizons, while cherishing those achievements at hand!

By Gail Cochrane

Gail is a Facilitator (National Capability) with Services to Schools based in Hamilton.

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