23 Jul 2014

Learning Maori 'political statement' for some

11:17 pm on 23 July 2014

A Maori language expert says learning Te Reo is a political statement for some Maori and a way of showing they still exist.

te reo sign

Photo: PHOTO NZ

This week marks the beginning of a 50-week campaign to teach one Maori word a week, instigated by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Maori Language Commission).

Joe Te Rito, a leading language researcher at Auckland University, says for some Maori who speak Te Reo it is a way of asserting that they are still here and intend to keep it alive.

Mr Te Rito said it is akin to women who wear a moko on their chin, which is a political statement.

He said for many Maori who feel like they've been silenced over the years, speaking the language and to one another in public is empowering.

The quality of Maori being spoken is mixed, but the main thing is that people are trying to learn it, he said.