Maori Language Week (Te Wiki o Te Reo) is a time to celebrate the renaissance of Maori language and consolidate its survival.
Te reo is one of 26 languages in the Polynesian subset of the Austronesian linguistic group.
From Madagascar and Taiwan through the Malayan Peninsula, Philippine and Indonesian archipelagos, Oceania, Micronesia, Melanesia and across the Polynesia Triangle to Easter Island, they were the most widespread languages in the world.
Te reo has a legacy of loss.
It was banned in Parliament, courts, hospitals, government departments, local bodies and in church prayers and hymns as Pakeha (New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) teachers beat Maori children for speaking the words of ancestors.
The infamous 1960 Hunn Report labelled Maori speakers backward.
Maori leaders, grandparents and parents stopped speaking. The language began to die.
New Zealand can be proud of the spirit with which Maori have fought back.
Nga Tamatoa led the way with a 30,000-name petition in 1972. Whata Winiata launched Te Whare Wananga o Raukawa. Wainuiomata Maori mothers founded kohanga reo preschools. Bilingual and kura kaupapa schooling followed. In 1987, te reo became an official language.
Te reo has come back from the brink. The number of Maori korero-ing has more than doubled since 1980, the number of children tripled.
Maori using te reo at home have risen 17 per cent since 2001.
Maori TV and 21 iwi radio stations pump the beat of the korero to a multicultural audience.
Kai, kia ora, kia kaha and ka kite are embedded in the nation's idiom. Kiwiana and Kiwitanga together.
Maori TV introduced a second "reo only" channel last year; Google and the Maori Language Commission launch a te reo search engine today.
Eleven thousand Maori children attend 550 pre-school kohanga reo, puna reo and puna kohungahunga. There are 25,000 enrolled in 426 kaupapa Maori-medium schools. They do better in NCEA than Maori in mainstream schools because te reo builds a more confident identity platform from which to participate. Wananga draw thousands of older Maori with free te reo courses.
More sing the E Ihowa atua . . . verse of the national anthem, everyone knows Ka mate, ka mate