Maori language a family affair

This week is Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, or Māori Language Week, in New Zealand (and around the world, I guess!).  It’s a time to celebrate this beautiful indigenous language, be proud if you speak it, and learn a few phrases if you don’t.  This year’s theme is ‘te mahi kai’, which is a concept close to my own heart.  It means not only to partake in a meal, but also covers all the things associated with putting the meal together, including gathering food (and, traditionally, hunting), preparation, and cooking.

Some people don’t think that learning te reo Māori (the Māori language) will get you very far, but one family in Tokoroa firmly believes otherwise.  Chris McKenzie was told that if he wanted to continue to date his (now) wife, he would have to learn how to speak Māori.  Not to be deterred, he quit his job and began learning the language.  So began a lifelong passion for both learning and teaching te reo Māori, both to official students and to his close and extended family.  He and his wife are also raising their children solely in Māori, which was controversial enough that friends stopped coming to visit their home.  The couple stand by their decision, though, and believe it is their children’s birthright, not something they should have to pay to learn in adulthood.  As a child of Chinese parents who didn’t raise me in the language, I wholeheartedly support the McKenzie’s decision.

Read the full article here.

Image: TELPortfolio.

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