Gisborne turns out for te reo

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Despite the cold and windy weather, residents of Gisborne gathered at Te Poho o Rāwiri Marae to carry out their Māori Language Week festivities.

Irihapeti Nepe-Macdonald, a lead teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori ō Te Uri a Māui, came with her students to support the event.

“Although this is Māori Language Week, we need to make sure that we are embracing our language every day!” says Nepe-Macdonald. 

According to the 2013 census, 44,000 people call Gisborne home, with one in six of them, being able to hold a conversation in Māori.

Stats from 2013 census say 1 in 6 of 44,000 Gisborne residents can hold conversational te reo - Source / File

The day was hosted by local, Māori language advocate, Matai Smith, who interacted with the 400 plus children that were gathered in the wharekai. There was dance, and costume competitions, followed by a hīkoi around the adjacent netball courts. 

Smith acknowledges the challenge from another Māori language advocate, Paraone Gloyne, regarding the future of this kaupapa.

“I have been having various meetings with people within my circle about this kaupapa, whether it be Māori Language Week or Māori Language Month, and I am kind of leaning towards Māori Language Month,” says Smith.