Māori Language policy and procedure for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

In Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, have you got a Māori language policy and procedure up and running? If not, now’s the time to get  one happening.

Te reo Māori is an official language of Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ) along with English and NZ Sign Language.  According to Sir James Henare, “Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori” – its the life force of the mana Māori.

The language is a taonga/cultural treasure that is protected by Te Tiriti o Waitangi. However, like many indigenous languages around the world, it was quashed by colonisation so that by the 1980s it faced the threat of extinction. Since then, and due to the perseverance of Māori and the success of initiatives like Te Kohanga Reo and Te Kura Kaupapa, the language has undergone a revival.

Over the last decade the number of Māori proficient in the reo and numbers supporting use of the language in schools etc has increased significantly (see Statistics NZ Te reo Māori proficiency and support continues to grow.)

Ideas for Māori Language policy and procedure 

With policy and procedures on Māori language for your organisation, you can support the ongoing revitalisation of the language.  In this post, we suggested some ideas. Here’s some more ideas on what you might cover:

Promotion of the language

  • Use common use Māori kupu/words in signage
  • Help build staff confidence to use te reo Māori by providing opportunities for kōrero in daily work.
  • Support and require staff to pronounce kupu Māori correctly, particularly the names of people and places and frequently used phrases

Recognise the relevance of the language

  • Encourage and support staff to learn and further their skills in te reo Māori as part of professional development
  • Recognise competency in te reo Māori as a valued skill in recruitment and remuneration processes
  • Support initiatives for te reo speakers to kōrero and support each other
  • Offer information about your organisation in te reo Māori
  • If you have the staff and resourcing, ascertain clients’ cultural preferences and allocate staff accordingly.

Recognise the importance of language and culture

  • Consult with mana/tangata whenua and seek cultural expertise, when necessary, about appropriate protocols/tikanga and use of te reo Māori
  • Affirm the rangatiratanga and mana of the iwi in your region and acknowledge the different dialects of te reo Māori
  • Engage with staff and acknowledge the right of Māori staff to lead or guide policy and procedures on use of te reo Māori in the organisation
  • Have and update a Te Tiriti o Waitangi policy that recognises te reo Māori as a taonga/cultural treasure and promotes usage
  • Include a requirement to pronounce or learn to pronounce Māori names and place names correctly in the Code of Conduct
  • Support equality and inclusion in the workplace with initiatives like cultural safety training and Diversity and Inclusion policy and processes.

For other ideas, check out our previous posts. In Kia Mauri Ora te reo Māori, for example, we suggested that having a Māori language plan could be a good way of staying on track with learning the reo as an organisation.

And don’t forget the basics- sharing with others is the essence of language.

Have fun, eat kai, sing and kōrero to celebrate the special and unique language of this land during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.