Guest post: Te Ururoa Flavell and Te Wiki o te reo Māori

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time on social media. I have TweetDeck open pretty much all the time I am on my computer, as well as Facebook open in a tab. So I have a habit of being exposed to things that others have stumbled upon. One of these things was a Facebook event by the Maori Party.



In this case, I thought, instead of trying to explain the intention and the methods from the outside, I would get Te Ururoa Flavell to explain it from their perspective.


I reckon you really appreciate what your language means to you when you see those who wish to be able to speak it. It was really that which triggered in me the desire to speak my language. My language is who I am.

I have been a champion of te reo Māori my entire life, whether that has been through teaching, both secondary students and adults alike, through to running wānanga here in Te Arawa. And of course, it was myself and the Māori Party back in 2005 who presented a case to the Speaker of the House requesting simultaneous English-Māori translation service within the debating chamber.  On the 9th Feb 2010, the installation of this translation service was complete, and te reo spoken in the debating chambers is now translated in real time to our colleagues who previously had to wait for an interpretation to be provided to them.  We are so proud that we have ensured that te reo Māori will be spoken, heard and understood inside the walls of Parliament forever!

I was very lucky to meet and eventually marry my wife Erana who was also a speaker of Māori, so it was inevitable that our children would be speakers and we would have a Māori language household. And it was not been without struggle. Starting kohanga reo from scratch, fundraising to pay our kura teachers, bringing people on board when they consider you too hard or staunch, whanau splits… We have seen it all. But our Māori speaking household remains intact – our children speak our language and our mokopuna will also take part in the retention and survival of our reo.

We are well aware of the struggles that many of our people have faced over the years with learning te reo. We have generations who considered themselves ‘the lost generations,’ who were not allowed to speak Māori – in fact, disciplined for doing so – and their children who were raised in the same way – thinking it was of no use and unacceptable in our society.  Thankfully, we now have kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, wharekura, and adult learning institutions such as He Kāinga mo te Reo, Whare Wānanga and universities where we can learn right from birth up, so there are now lots of opportunities to get reo savvy, and for those who want go a step further, get fluent in te reo!

We believe that every week should be ‘te reo’ week, and as such, we have a track record of speaking on issues in the House in te reo, as well as providing waiata in the House at times when it has been appropriate which has been appreciated by not only Members of Parliament, but the staff in and around the precinct as well.

To celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, the Māori Party put together a fun online interactive way to encourage wider participation. The purpose of our event is simple, we want to encourage te reo to be spoken regularly, and celebrated.  We want to help people appreciate te reo, and show examples of ways that new or old kupu (words) can be utilised.  To participate, all you need to do is upload a picture or a status with a kupu Māori and its meaning, or even a whakatauki (proverb) and its meaning.  You could include a sentence showing how that word might be used.  We are really pleased with the uptake of the event so far and have seen some really interesting and fun examples of the use of our reo.

Authorised by Te Ururoa Flavell 1489 Eruera St, Rotorua


I encourage everyone to go and check out the event page. It is a great way to learn even just a few words. Plus people are doing good work, on a serious task, in a relaxed way.




This is a god example of how social media can be used in a multi directional manner. People get to learn and to teach at the same time. Being dyslexic, I have enough trouble with English, but I do intend on trying to pick up a few little things during Te Wiki o te reo Māori and hopefully we will see more use of te reo as we go along.