He reo taikaha, he reo taiwhanga

At this present time, there seems to be widespread pessimism affecting many initiatives relating to te reo Māori. In the media, for example, an encroaching cloud of political intervention is looking to overshadow the current operations of Kohanga Reo, which is highlighted by less than desirable statistics revealed in chapter five of te reo Māori in the WAI262 claim. This is further compounded by the release of the ‘Te Reo Mauri Ora’ report emphasising a critical need for increased proactive intervention in the home as the likely stronghold for language revitalisation within the wider context of a new infrastructure to be designed and implemented by Te Taurawhiri i te Reo Māori in order to address immediate concerns of the people about the state of te reo. And more recently, Te Ataarangi funding issues, which will not only be a setback for its future development, but also funding in general that could impact negatively on other initiatives that have been running over a long period of time.

In the light of these issues, and considering all these structures, frameworks, programmes and initiatives that have been operating over a period of 39 years from 1972-20011 the stagnating progress of te reo Māori is interestingly frustrating and upon personal observation it has not even come close to achieving any sort of pinnacle in the 21st century, where it should be now! In fact, future projections from other sources have predicted a decline in te reo Māori that will eventually lead to its demise, and although I don’t share this belief, prevention is better than the cure. To their credit, the WAI262 and Te Reo Mauri Ora reports have at least brought to the forefront reasons suggesting why these issues are occurring and provide some guidelines to address them. With the timely release of the book My Language, My Inspiration, a chronological history of Māori language revitalisation efforts from 1972-2008 (Winitana, 2011), the findings of both reports can be easily located within the historical context of this book and give both teachers and students of te reo a greater textual and visual account of why the Māori language is in its present state.

The book as far as I’m aware of is the only one that provides a broad chronological history of te reo Māori covering this timeframe that a reader can refer to for historical information collected in a single source and puts an end to consulting idiosyncratic and sporadic sources. However, there is a need to write more books on this subject concerning Māori language historical development for academic and general audiences and increase the literature in this area.

Despite what I have said about the approaching clouds of pessimism affecting initiatives relating to te reo Māori and its current state, one thing is certain in my mind, ko te kai a te rangatira he reo taikaha, he reo taiwhanga e ora tonu ai mai rā anō a muri ake nei. Māori is a resilient and communal language realised in its endurance from time immemorial and henceforth.

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