Māori is a Polynesian language spoken in New Zealand, or Aotearoa ('The Land of the Long White Cloud'), and the Cook Islands by about 136,000 people. It was brought to New Zealand by Polynesian people, probably from Taihiti or thereabouts in about 800 AD, or possibly earlier.
Māori is most closely related to Tahitian, which is spoken in Tahiti and the Society Islands, and Rarotongan, which is spoken in the southern Cook Islands.
Before 1840, Māori was the predominant language of New Zealand. It was extensively used in social, religious, commercial and political interactions among Māori, and between Māori and Pākehā (Whites). Māori was also the language of instruction in the schools set up by missionaries.
The first printed Māori book was Thomas Kendall's 1815 reader called E korao no New Zealand (Talk from New Zealand). The first Māori language newspaper was published in 1842. By 1900 more than a thousand publications in Māori had appeared.
In 1867 the Native Schools Act decreed that English should be the only language used in the education of Māori children, which lead to many Māori children being punished for speaking their own language.
From the 1940s onwards, the Māori began migrating to urban areas where they were living amongst the English-speaking Pākehā. As a result, many of them chose to speak English and to raise their children as English speakers.
In the 1970s, Māori urban groups began to be concerned about the decline of the Māori language and set up various schemes and organisations to promote the language, including bilingual and Māori medium schools, radio stations and a TV channel.
Ko te katoa o nga tangata i te whanaungatanga mai e watea ana i nga here katoa; e tauriterite ana hoki nga mana me nga tika. E whakawhiwhia ana hoki ki a ratou te ngakau whai whakaaro me te hinengaro mohio ki te tika me te he, a e tika ana kia meinga te mahi a tetahi ki tetahi me ma roto atu i te wairua o te noho tahi, ano he teina he tuakana i ringa i te whakaaro kotahi.
Another version of this text:
I te whānautanga mai o te tangata, kāhore ōna here, e ōrite ana tōna mana me ōna tika ki te katoa. Ka whakatōkia ki roto i te tangata he wairua, he hinengaro hoki, ā, me mahi tahi ia ki ngā tāngata o te ao i runga i te āhua o te tuakana me te teina.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Māori language and culture, and online lessons
Te Karere Ipurangi - Māori News Online
Te Puni Kōkiri - Ministry of Māori Development
Te Taurawhiri i te Reo Māori - Māori Language Commission
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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