On 1 August 1987 Māori became an official New Zealand Language — around 140 years after English-speaking peoples started flooding into the country:
At the beginning of the 19th century the Maori language (te reo Maori) was the predominant language spoken in Aotearoa/New Zealand. As more English speakers arrived in New Zealand, the Maori language was increasingly confined to Maori communities. By the mid-20th century there were concerns that the language was dying out. Major initiatives launched from the 1980s have brought about a revival of te reo. In the early 21st century, more than 130,000 people of Maori ethnicity could speak and understand te reo, one of the two official languages of New Zealand.
This last week has been the annual celebration of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week:
Since 1975 Māori Language Week has been an opportunity for us to speak it, or to show our support to speakers of te reo Māori. Join us in 2009 as we celebrate te reo Māori — the Māori language.
It’s great to see an increasing use and acceptance of Māori, and greater efforts to try for correct pronunciation.
Just a wee note though about the
two official languages mentioned above. In fact, since around 2006, there are three:
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is unique to New Zealand and is one of our official languages.
NZSL is the natural language of the Deaf community in New Zealand. It was developed right here on our home soil, just as English was created in England. As a result it contains ideas, sayings, words that are not found In other sign languages.
In particular it has signs for Te Reo Maori words and ideas which can not be found anywhere else.
Sign Language Week was celebrated in May. See some sample videos of NZSL at the link above.