Reo Māori-speaking families are taking Christmas into their own hands in the wake of the Māori Santa at the Nelson Christmas parade who was the subject of an online racist tirade. The latest, Christmas calls to a reo-speaking Santa Clause.
For reo-speaking children, the only Santa that exists is Māori Santa. Videos have emerged of families initiating conversations for their children with Santa in te reo, enabling fluent kids to take part in the Christmas tradition of asking for their Christmas wishes.
Te Ataakura Pewhairangi says, “My daughter Tapairu has long been asking to call Santa so that she can ask for Christmas presents and, the thing is, te reo Māori is her first language.”
Both Te Ataakura Pewhairangi and Miria Flavell are young mothers and public figures who choose to speak only te reo Māori to their children who were full of excitement when they heard Santa speaking their language.
Pewhairangi says, “When she heard it was Santa her eyes opened wide, you could see the joy in her when she heard Santa's language was te reo Māori.”
The children’s uncles were more than happy to rise to the occasion.
Te reo Māori Santa and Uncle, Te Aorere Pewhairangi says, “I know that they don't know how to speak English so they were pleasantly surprised by the Māori being spoken to them.”
Te Ataakura Pewhairangi says the racist backlash surrounding Māori Santa, Robert Herewini following the Nelson Christmas Parade is irrelevant.
“To me, people need to be more open to Māori culture, to Māori language because it is an official language here in Aotearoa. Also, leave the ignorant people to themselves, let them do as they do, what do we care.”
She says popular figures for children should be tailored to resonate with them.
“That's why I'm showing everyone, the country that here we are, a reo Māori-speaking family promoting Santa but in te reo Māori because that's what's natural for us.”
Crowdfunding efforts have resulted in Māori Santa being scheduled to reappear, this time at the Wellington Parade next Saturday.