Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples today paid tribute to Te Reo Māori Society and Ngā Tamatoa, on the fortieth anniversary of the Māori Language Petition being presented to Parliament.
"14 September 1972 was declared the first National Māori Language Day, and it marks the start of the most incredible struggle for the revitalisation of te reo Māori," said Dr Sharples.
"In 40 years our reo has returned from a steep decline towards extinction, to the point where two generations of native speakers are using te reo Māori in their daily lives, where public attitudes towards te reo Māori have almost completely turned around, and the language itself has been modernised so it is fit and strong to meet the demands of contemporary lifestyles," said Dr Sharples.
"It is an inspirational story of success, though not yet a victory. Māori are seen as world leaders among indigenous language groups, who draw hope and strength for the future of their own languages from our achievements. As we celebrate, we must prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
"Te Reo Māori Society pioneered campaigns for Māori broadcasting, bilingual education and official recognition of Māori - all of which have come to pass. They laid the foundations on which others have built, and Aotearoa is much richer for their legacy. We have come too far not to carry on. We can best honour the pioneers by our continuing commitment to te reo Māori.
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