A leading educator in the Maori language says the fight to make te reo viable and relevant has been a struggle over the last 40 years - and continues to be so.
Rotorua's Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ruamata principal Dr Cathy Dewes received the top individual award at the Maori Language Commission Awards held in Tauranga on Friday.
She says while some progress has been made over the years, trying to break down barriers in society to the use of the Maori language continues to be a real challenge.
Dr Dewes says according to a United Nations measure, te reo Maori is still ranked between being critically and severely endangered.
She says she would like to see more of an effort to promote te reo as the first language of Maori people.