Wellington turns out for Te wiki o te reo Māori

2:05 pm on 10 September 2018

Te wiki o te reo Māori has begun and Wellington central has been transformed

Thousands of school kids, parents, organisations, businesses and government representatives blocked the main street through Lambton Quay to celebrate te reo Māori.

This year's Māori language parade was bigger than ever, with choruses of waiata ringing out to the crowds watching, school kids performing haka, and hundreds of people carrying signs printed with this year's theme, Kia kaha te reo Māori or Keep the Māori language strong.

Kaea Matene from Tairangi School was beaming with excitement while he walked with his school friends down the main street.

"It's heaps of fun," he said.

"For Māori Language week we're having kai, and doing presentation on Friday in front of the school - like singing, dancing or art in a Māori theme."

Students Anna Wilkinson and Laura Reid from St Orans College said their school was also doing their bit to revitalise te reo.

"We've been doing lots of activities that we can do thoughout the school like being taught poi.

"We're just trying to greet everyone with Māori greetings, it's really fun."

Prime Minister kicks off Māori language week

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Wellington High School today to mark the start of Māori Language Week, and the questions were coming thick and fast from its students.

She said one of her biggest regrets was not learning how to converse in te reo Māori.

Jacinda Ardern at Wellington High School

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Wellington High School today. Photo: RNZ/ Richard Tindiller

One of the 50 teenagers gathered at Taraika marae on the school grounds this morning asked if Ms Ardern thought there would ever be a prime minister that could speak Māori.

Ms Ardern said that was a realistic thought and she wished she could have been the first leader of the country to have that ability.

Jacinda Ardern at Wellington High School

Jacinda Ardern at Wellington High School Photo: RNZ/ Richard Tindiller

Another student asked how te reo and tikanga would be a part in her daughter Neve Te Aroha's life.

"Clark and I have only had very early discussions - we're only 12 weeks in - but we've certainly got the books to be able to ensure that she's learning te reo even through her early story time," Ms Ardern said.

"But, yes, we'll have to have a discussion about how it is that we make sure that she has that access and learns a language we never learnt."

Ms Ardern congratulated Wellington High School for making it compulsory for all year nine students to learn te reo.