Te Reo Māori is the indigenous language of Aotearoa, New Zealand. It is one of three official languages of the nation. The language itself is central to Māori culture, identity and forms part of the heritage of our country.
This page contains Te Reo Māori information and links to resources. For information about Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Act) 2016 and Te Puni Kōkiri work in leading the Māori Language Strategy visit Ā Mātou Kaupapa.
History of Te Reo Māori
Te Reo Māori has experienced a varied history, from being a language that was solely spoken in the early 1800s, to a complete reversal where English was prominent more widely in the mid 1900s. Despite the change in roles, the Māori language has survived and experienced revitalisation since the 1970s.
The resurgence in Te Reo Māori began during the 1970s. At a time when fewer families spoke Māori, fears were prevalent that it was dying out as an everyday language. In response, Māori language education initiatives such as Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori and Te Ataarangi were created.
In 1987, the Māori Language Act was passed into legislation recognising Te Reo Māori as an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand. It also formed a body, known as Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission which promotes Māori as a living language and as an ordinary means of communication. Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori sets quality standards for written and spoken Māori, and provides research which informs policy related to the promotion, maintenance and growth of the Māori language.
Since then, the focus has widened to include Māori broadcasting, and subsequently led to the establishment of Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency.
Further developments include the establishment of, Whakaata Māori, the Māori Television Service in 2003. In 2008, a second Māori Television channel, Te Reo, was launched committed solely to broadcasting in Te Reo Māori.
In April 2016, Parliament passed The Māori Language Act 2016. This act established Te Mātāwai to lead revitalisation of te reo Māori on behalf of iwi and Māori.
It is written in te reo Māori and English, with the Māori language text prevailing – a first for the New Zealand legal system.
The act includes an acknowledgement that the Crown’s past policies and practices concerning the Māori language have had a detrimental effect on generations of iwi and Māori.
Te Mātāwai met for the first time at Ōtaki in October 2016.
In August 2017, Rotorua became the first city in New Zealand to declare itself as bilingual in te reo Māori and English.
Te Reo Māori statistics
Te Kupenga 2013, a Māori wellbeing report released by Statistics New Zealand indicated that nearly 55 percent of Māori adults (257,500) had some ability to speak Te Reo Māori (that is, they were able to speak more than a few words or phrases in the language). This compared to 42 percent (153,500) in 2001.
The report also showed that 50,000 (11 percent) of Māori adults could speak te reo Māori very well or well; that is, they could speak about almost anything or many things in Māori.
Attitudes towards the Māori language amongst Māori and non-Māori are improving. The Survey of Attitudes toward the Māori Language, undertaken for Te Puni Kōkiri in 2006, found that the Māori language currently enjoys a high status in Māori society, and also positive acceptance by the majority of non-Māori New Zealanders.
Funding for Te Reo Māori initiatives
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori administers the Mā te Reo programme which provides financial support for community-originated projects that increase language use, proficiency and strengthen the ability of communities to lead language regeneration.
Māori-English Bilingual Signage
The Māori-English Bilingual Signage: A guide for best practice is a resource produced by Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori to increase and improve bilingual signage throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
The guide is packed full of good tips on how organisations can engage with Māori communities and support te reo Māori to be more visible through signage.
Te Reo Māori broadcasting
Te Māngai Pāho, Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency is a Crown Entity established to make funding available to the national network of Māori radio stations and for the production of Māori language television programmes, radio programmes, and music compilations.
Irirangi.net contains links and contact information to the network of 21 Māori radio stations.
Whakaata Māori, Māori Television is Aotearoa, New Zealand’s indigenous broadcaster, providing a wide range of local and international programmes for audiences across the country and online.
The Te Reo channel is a full service of 100 percent Māori language programme. The channel offers latest news and views, chat shows, and infotainment as well as sport and children’s shows. Te Reo channel is on SKYTV: channel 82 and Freeview: channel 24.
Te Reo Māori education – early learning and schools
This Ministry of Education factsheet provides more information and an overview to kaupapa Māori and Māori medium education and Education Counts includes statistical information about Māori Language in Education.
Te Kōhanga Reo is a movement which has established Māori language nests or centres for mokopuna and whānau. Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board was established in the early 1980s with a mission to protect te reo, tikanga me ngā āhuatanga Māori by targeting the participation of mokopuna and whānau into the Kōhanga Reo movement.
Other Māori immersion and/or bilingual options include puna reo (education and care centres) and ngā puna kōhungahunga (playgroups). Some kindergartens and home-based education and care services offer bilingual early childhood education as well. Information about early learning and ECE services can be found on this site for parents.
The Ministry of Education funds and licences all kōhanga reo and ECE services. Ngā puna kōhungahunga (playgroups) are not licensed but they can be certified to receive Government funding.
In the compulsory school sector some schools operate as kura kaupapa Māori and are aligned to Te Rūnanganui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori. Other schools are formally aligned to local iwi (Kura Motuhake)
Education Counts has a directory of schools where all, or some, of their students are taught curriculum subjects in reo Māori for at least 51 percent of the time, and you can find contact details for these schools through Te Kete Ipurangi.
Wanting to learn Te Reo Māori?
Te Ataarangi has engaged Māori communities in learning the language in homes and on Marae since 1979. It has a number of Te Reo Māori learning programmes available across the county.
Many tertiary education organisations offer papers and courses in te reo Māori which are registered on the National Qualifications Framework. To find an education organisation in your region, go to the NZQA website.
Māori dictionaries online
Te Aka Māori-English, English-Māori Dictionary is an online Māori dictionary to complement its hard copy version.
The Ngata Dictionary illustrates the use of Māori and English headwords in sentences and phrases drawn from a wide range of contemporary and traditional contexts. It explains usage as well as meaning.
Looking for a translator?
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori hosts a National Translators Register with the names of the people that were conferred with the Māori Translators and/or Interpreters Licence and were certified under Section 15(2) c of the Māori Language Act 1987.
Events and Updates
Latest events and updates for this section are listed below.
Te reo me ōna tikana, our connection to our whenua, marae kawa tikana, waiata, karakia whānau connection hapu, iwi connection
- Registration required
- Organiser: Paretai, Mau Rua whānau, however incorporating the other whanau, it becomes tō mātou whānau.
Tūhonohono i ngā taonga ā-iwi
Tūhonohono i ngā taonga ā-iwi explores preservation of iwi cultural heritage and development of iwi cultural centres. Kaitiaki of taonga and those who have a general interest are welcome
- Registration required
- Organiser: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Ngā Manu Kōrero National Competition 2017
The national secondary speech contests are now entering their 52nd year and the national finals this year will be hosted by Ngā Manu Kōrero 2017 ki Taranaki.
- Open to the public, no booking required
- Organiser: Ngā Manu Kōrero ki Taranaki
Cultural Revitalisation and the making of identity with Aotearoa New Zealand
Donna Matahaere Atariki is of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru and Te Atiawa descent, has a background in Māori development and is engaged in roles at national, regional and local levels, including the Chair of the Ōtākou Rūnanga, a member of the University of Otago Council, and a Gambling Commissioner.
It’s official – Rotorua is New Zealand’s first bilingual city
You can now expect to see and hear more reo Māori in Rotorua as the city takes on the mantle of being New Zealand’s first officially declared bilingual city.