Ko taku reo taku ohooho
Raiha Johnson, Bachelor of Education (Māori - Bilingual teaching)
Te Reo Māori literally means ‘the Māori language’, that is, the ancestral language of the tangata whenua of New Zealand (ngā iwi Māori). The whakatauki (proverb) above illustrates the importance of te reo Māori to ngā iwi Māori; its meaning translates as, ‘My language is my awakening’.
This country has three official languages; Māori, English and New Zealand Sign Language. Te Reo Māori gained status as an ‘official’ language with the passing of Māori Language Act in 1987 and is one of the taonga (treasures) guaranteed protection under the Treaty of Waitangi. It also provides this country with a unique language identity in the rest of the world, as this is the only place where Māori is spoken widely*.
* Source: T. Kāretu, J. Waite, Te Reo Māori, Department of Statistics, New Zealand Official Yearbook 1988-1989, pp 217-227. (93rd Ed.), Wellington, 1988