Te Taura Whiri adopts Air NZ te reo initiative

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A badge created by Air New Zealand to identify Māori speaking cabin crew is now being made available to be worn by all fluent speakers of te reo Māori. The tohu reo initiative received a great response and will now be developed further by the Māori Language Commission.

A symbol signifying a partnership to revitalise te reo Māori. 

Chairman of Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori, Ngahiwi Apanui says, "It's drawing the multitudes of NZ into the revitalisation of the Māori language. This symbol won't achieve that on its own, but it's a resource we can use to draw the people of this land into speaking Māori."

Air New Zealand launched the idea last year during Māori Language Week and later won the supreme award at the Māori Language Awards. 

Now, the Māori Language Commission will maintain it with the hope it will encourage an increase in daily use of te reo Māori.

Cultural Development Manager, Air New Zealand Andrew Baker adds, "The benefit comes when we see the tohu is not just for us we are only the first organisation to wear it, it's actually for all New Zealanders - bus drivers, policemen, firemen, anyone can wear the tohu with their fluency and hopefully it will normalise the use of te reo Māori.

So how does one get a badge?

"The symbol shows that one is a proficient speaker of the Māori language. How is that determined? By sitting the National Māori Language Proficiency Examinations. If you attain level three or higher you will be awarded the symbol," Apanui says. 

The aim is to encourage businesses to consider how the Māori language can add value to their staff and services.