Maori Language Week 2010 has been an outstanding success with Maori and non Maori throughout Aotearoa New Zealand taking part says NZ National Commission for UNESCO chair, Bryan Gould.
“Maori Language Week in 1980 saw Maori march on parliament demanding that te reo Maori be recognised as an official language of New Zealand. At the head of the march were Maori leaders and academics including our own former UNESCO National Commissioner, Keri Kaa of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou,” says Mr Gould.
“Thirty years later, we have a thriving Maori immersion education system from kohanga reo right through to wananga or tertiary institutions. Maori Television has carved out a niche as one of the country’s heartland networks while iwi radio stations stretch across New Zealand.”
“Meanwhile mainstream New Zealand has also joined in and it is now commonplace to hear Maori on radio and television. Businesses, schools, universities, government departments, community groups and even engineers in communities throughout the country came together to celebrate te reo Maori this year.”
This year the NZ National Commission worked in partnership with the Human Rights Commission to host a forum on the relationship between the Maori language and the languages of the Pacific.
“New Zealanders from all walks of life celebrated Maori Language Week 2010 and this in itself is a milestone and a success that all New Zealanders can share in,” says Mr Gould.
A specialised agency of the United Nations, UNESCO is dedicated to the preservation of endangered languages with member states adopting the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001.
“Multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding. Obviously the message for us in Aotearoa New Zealand is that multilingualism: starts at home,” says Mr Gould.