One of the things that makes Aotearoa/New Zealand special is the Māori culture and language. Although it is only spoken in New Zealand, the Māori language (Te Reo) is a beautiful language and is a taonga (treasure).
Why learn Te Reo Māori?
Not only is Te Reo the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand, it is also one of the three official languages of our country. Māori words are becoming common in everyday conversation in New Zealand and there is an increasing expectation that people in New Zealand will be aware of at least a few basic words. Learning a language, no matter what it is, is also a great way to learn about a different culture and learning Te Reo is a great way to find out more about Māori culture.
Although there are not many jobs where you are required to speak only Māori, there are many where speaking some Māori is useful, or even expected. Most teaching jobs in New Zealand would expect a basic level of Te Reo and many government jobs ask for some understanding of Te Reo. If you are considering a job in the media, proper pronunciation of Te Reo is important.
Although Te Reo is not spoken outside New Zealand, there are several languages that have similarities. Cook Island Maori, Samoan, and Hawaiian all have features in common with Te Reo – speakers of Te Reo may find that they can understand parts of these languages.
Increasingly, publishers are producing Te Reo versions of books. It is now possible to buy a range of books – especially children’s books – in both English and Te Reo.
Where do you learn Te Reo?
Most children in New Zealand will learn a little Te Reo at school and most high schools offer Te Reo classes. There are also a number of adult community courses where you can learn Te Reo – try your local high school, tertiary institution or community centre. Many local marae (Māori meeting houses) also offer courses in Te Reo.
There are also a number of New Zealand-wide institutions that offer Te Reo courses and some of these can be completed by correspondence.
What age can your child start learning Te Reo?
From birth! As with any language, children have a remarkable capacity to learn language. Many families introduce Māori words from birth and children quickly become familiar with words from both English and Māori. It’s also a great opportunity to learn alongside your child if you want to.
More resources to help you learn Māori
- New Zealand History Online has a great list of 100 words that all New Zealanders should know
- Korero Māori and Māori Language have a whole range of resources to help you learn Te Reo, including pronunciation guides and basic phrase.
- Here is a list of Māori language providers around New Zealand
- You can find out more about the role of Te Reo in New Zealand here