Maori language must be 'sexy'
"We've got to make Maori sexy again."
That's the word from one of Waikato University's leading Maori language experts, who says the survival of te reo Maori will be dictated by its ability to remain relevant for everyday New Zealanders.
Faculty of Education lecturer Dr Koro Ngapo - who recently became the first Waikato University student to complete a PhD in te reo Maori - said in order to revitalise the language, it had to be merged with modern technologies.
Television shows, social media and smartphone apps should be used to promote Maori language, Dr Ngapo said.
"Those are the things that make the language sexy."
He also said celebrities, such as All Black Piri Weepu, speaking te reo Maori would help encourage young people to learn the language.
Speaking after the Hamilton launch of Maori Language Week at Te Awa, The Base yesterday, Dr Ngapo said the survival of the language for the next 50 to 60 years would be driven by the people who speak te reo Maori at home.
"If we continue to promote and put the adequate resources into the development of te reo Maori, the Maori language will survive.
"New Zealanders should not be in a false sense of security about where the language is at the moment."
Race relations commissioner Joris de Bres also stressed the importance of Maori language staying relevant at the launch yesterday.
He praised Countdown supermarket for providing free Maori language phrase books, and Vodafone for creating a free Maori language app for iPhone and Android.
Dr Koro Wetere - who helped make Maori an official language 25 years ago - said the future of the language rested with young people (tamariki). Although big strides had been made since 1987, the long-term survival of the language was uncertain.
"There's only one way to rescue that - to imprint that into our young people."
Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said te reo Maori was at the heart of Maori culture.
"If the language dies, the culture will die, and something quite unique will be lost to the world."
Maori Language Week runs from July 23 till 29.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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