Taranaki reo expert among those recognised at Maori language awards
A Taranaki expert in te reo Maori has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award.
The work of Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru was recognised at this year's Nga Tohu Reo Maori or National Maori Language Awards, which were held in New Plymouth on Friday night.
Organised by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori or the Maori Language Commission, the awards honour excellence in terms of te reo and its use.
Waikerepuru's efforts to revitalise the Maori language began in the 1970s and he was instrumental in the establishment of Te Reo o Taranaki, along with the region's iwi radio station.
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Waikerepuru was also involved in the Waitangi Tribunal claim that resulted in te reo becoming an official language in 1987.
Another group with a Taranaki link was among the winners when the Patea Maori Club took out the top prize in the arts and entertainment category.
Air New Zealand won the supreme award, as well as the business category, for its 10-year-long effort to integrate te reo and Maori values into its organisation.
Maori Language Commission chair Wayne Ngata said the te reo landscape had changed dramatically in recent decades.
"We have seen the generation born at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th pass away. We have seen the overwhelming enthusiasm of the Maori people to revitalise the language with initiatives like kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and community language planning and action. And we have seen, slowly at first, but with increasing determination, the Crown enter into a positive partnership for revitalisation," he said.
About 400 people attended the awards evening.