Arohatia te reo - cherish the language

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 09:11 21/07/2014
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
SVEN HERSELMAN/FAIRFAX NZ

GETTING INVOLVED: Blenheim siblings from left, Jayda 5, Landon, 7, and Ryleigh Wills, 9, love the Maori language and will be reading te reo Maori books with mum Vanessa Wills to celebrate Maori Language Week this week.

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A celebration of New Zealand's indigenous language begins today with Te Wiki o te reo Maori, or Maori Language Week, which starts today.

Blenheim mother Vanessa Wills said she and her three children would be incorporating as much te reo Maori into their week as they could.

The four of them spent time at the library on Friday, where they stocked up on te reo books to read.

Her children, Ryleigh, 9, Landon, 7, and Jayda, 5, all went to Springlands School, and had embraced the Maori culture there through kapa haka.

"They talk about [Maori Language Week] at school so we thought why don't we do it at home, too", Wills said.

She believed it was vital for children to keep learning te reo. "New Zealand is the only place that has that, so I think we should invest more money into teaching the kids how to speak that rather than Spanish or Chinese."

The theme of this year's week is ‘Te Kupu o te Wiki, The Word of the Week'. In line with this, a new Maori word will be highlighted each week for 50 weeks and schools, communities and organisations across the country will be encouraged to introduce and adopt that word.

Manager of Blenheim's Omaka Marae, Kiley Nepia, said while Te Wiki o te reo Maori was a good place to start for those who spoke little or no Maori, a week-long push on te reo every year was not enough. "There's still a lot of concentration and focused attention that needs to be put into revitalising Maori language and strengthening it," he said.

"Where some people are very cautious of Maori Language Week is that we shouldn't be putting a focus on Maori Language just for one week . . . Maori language should be celebrated 52 weeks of the year," Nepia said.

"There's different phases of revitalising the language and promoting it is one part and the other part of promoting it is normalising the language so it comes a part of our every day."

Nepia and the marae would be hosting a Maori trivial pursuit night on Wednesday at Ritual Cafe in Blenheim to mark Te Wiki o te reo Maori. He said they had decided to take the event away from the marae and into a Blenheim cafe to encourage the use of te reo in everyday settings.

The event is open to groups of four but spaces are limited.

kat.duggan@mex.co.nz

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- The Marlborough Express

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