MÄori Affairs Minister Hon Dr Pita Sharples today welcomed the start of MÄori Language Week, and is encouraging all New Zealanders to get behind our native language.
"Te reo MÄori is an official language of New Zealand. We should be proud of our heritage and ensure that our language endures in Aotearoa, the nation to which it is a home language," said Dr Sharples.
"The theme of MÄori Language Week this year is ‘Te Kupu o te Wiki’ (Word of the week) which is a perfect opportunity to pick up some MÄori words and incorporate them into your vocabulary or daily routine."
"I’m excited by the waiata ‘Aotearoa’, which has been written for Te Wiki o Te Reo MÄori by Stan Walker, featuring Maisey Rika, Ria Hall and Troy Kingi. Promoting our reo for all of New Zealand is what this week is all about."
"It’s also great to see so many businesses and communities across Aotearoa participating in MÄori language initiatives this week. It’s important that we all embrace our indigenous language to ensure its survival into the future."
"It would be wonderful if we saw this commitment to our reo carry on through every week of the year," said Dr Sharples.
Dr Sharples said that he is pleased to see the growing awareness and dialogue around contemporary issues in te reo MÄori, and that this is a promising step in the journey to revitalise the language.
"This week the MÄori Language Bill will be read for a first time in Parliament. The bill establishes an entity called Te MÄtÄwai to oversee agencies such as Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo MÄori, Te MÄngai PÄho, and MÄori Television."
"Tangata whenua should be determining how best to support our reo into the future and where the Crown’s strategy and resource should be directed. That is the purpose of this bill," said Dr Sharples.
Recent funding to support te reo MÄori includes $8.3m per annum in Budget 2013 for whÄnau, hapÅ« and iwi language initiatives and 265 existing Teach NZ scholarships targeted towards MÄori immersion and Secondary Te Reo MÄori trainees; and in 2014 $12m operational funding for iwi radio; $30m MÄori ICT Development Fund for the production and transmission of MÄori language content through digital platforms and for MÄori economic development.
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