Sunday 27th July was the official launch date of Māori Language week – Te Wiki o te Reo Maori. Commemorating 40 years since the very first Māori Language Day in 1975, this year’s theme is ‘Whāngaihia te reo ki ngā Mātua’ or ‘instil the language into parents.’
Off the back of the viral video of Kapiti teen Finnian Galbraith and his message about Maori pronunciation, we are reminded of the value te reo holds in our culture.
The poster above, engages the iconic image of Whina Cooper and her mokopuna from the 1975 land march, as they set off on the journey of a life time, now widely regarded as a flashpoint for Māori cultural reclamation. The northern matriarch’s protest was deliberately staged to coincide with the first Māori Language Day (later to become Māori Language Week). For Māori, land/whenua/pāpātuānuku and language/reo are inextricably linked.
Alienation of one is an alienation of the other. This image is a reminder of our past and the long journey we have taken. It also reflects on the importance of parents and caregivers in nurturing the next generation.
The poster above on the right depicts newly appointed Māori Language Commissioner, Hinurewa Poutu, with her students and whānau of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mana Tamariki. Despite being captured 40 years apart, the two images represent journey, progress, hope and courage to face adversity.
The message, however, remains the same: Toitū te whenua, toitū te mana, toitū te reo! Hold fast to the land, hold fast to our dignity, hold fast to our language.