Te reo Māori becoming more acceptable in mainstream schools

By Tema Hemi

Over two thousand students and staff from North Harbour schools rallied together today with a unified message.  Their call?  To support and normalise te reo Māori.

It was a diverse crowd with one voice. 

Dr Valance Smith of AUT says, "For me the significance of this event is that the language emerges to outside of the classroom, to normalise the language amongst the public, on the street, in cafes and everywhere outside of the classroom of our secondary and primary schools."

Mainstream schools within the Auckland suburb are putting their best foot forward this week by encouraging te reo.

"Within our primary and secondary schools more foreign students are learning the language so its only fitting that this event be staged in this area where the majority are non-Māori," says Smith.

Organisers say the diverse turnout has exceeded their expectations. 

According to Census NZ 2013, there are close to 150,000 people in Aotearoa who speak te reo Maori to some degree.  Of those, 125,000 are of Māori ethnicity, leaving 23,000 non-Māori who have a level of understanding. 

The North Harbour community say the future of the language is in the hands of their rangatahi. 

Smith says, "The aspiration is for our youth to become proficient in the language and then when they become adults they already have acquired the understanding and the obligations of its customs."

Auckland will host another rally in the city this Thursday following an event in Manukau, before making their way to Gisborne and Rotorua. 

Events to support Māori Language Week are being conducted nationwide.