Olly Richards and Logan Steedman, both 6, spend time playing tititōrea, or a Māori stick game in Room 6 at Birchwood School. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Māori language moment celebrated in Nelson

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The students in Room 6 are all using their taringa to listen to their Kaiako.

They are using their ears to listen to their teacher. In a few moments they will all take part in Te Wā Tuku Reo Māori/ Māori Language Moment as part of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori/Māori Language Week.

They will join nearly one million Kiwis who signed on to speak, sing or listen to te reo Māori at midday on Monday.

“We use te reo phrases which build your confidence,” says teacher/Kaiako Amy Johnson.

“The more you use it the better you become. You hear it more often and you see it more often and then it becomes more of what you do.”

The tauira all sit attentively while Amy shows them a waiata about the days of the week.

When the clock turns 12pm, they begin to sing.

Then they turn their attention to tititōrea which is played while also singing waiata.

The students all sit facing each other while singing and beating the sticks in different directions.

Olly Richards and Logan Steedman, both 6, slowly get the hang of it – singing at the top of their lungs while the music plays.

Amy says she came down to Nelson from Auckland, just over a year ago where the use of te reo Māori in schools seemed to be more widespread.

“So here we are trying to build it.”

She says it’s important to speak the language as a reflection of country.

“We are all part of Aotearoa New Zealand. We are all in this waka together.”

September 14 marked 48 years since a small group of language champions presented a petition to Parliament from 30,000 New Zealanders asking the government to teach Māori language in schools.

The 1972 petition sparked a turnaround for generations of Māori who were beaten in schools for speaking their language, and was the catalyst for that date becoming Māori Language Day – extended to Māori Language Week in 1975, an increase in Māori tuition across the country, and Māori becoming an official language in 1987.

The one million number coincides with the Government strategy to have one million te reo Māori speakers in the country by 2040.

– With NZ Herald