Mahuru Māori: Month for speaking te reo returns for 2023

3:19 pm on 16 September 2023
Lyndsay Te Puaheiri Snowden.

Lyndsay Te Puaheiri Snowden is challenging people to speak as much te reo as they can during Mahuru Māori. Photo: Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

Mahuru Māori, the month-long kaupapa aiming at normalising te reo in everyday situations, is back for 2023.

Participants are asked to consciously use as much te reo as they can during the Māori lunar calendar's month of Mahuru, which this year runs from 15 September to 14 October.

Regardless of whom people speak to, where and when they are speaking, participants should speak only in te reo Māori.

Part of the challenge is making your language malleable in situations where you might not often use te reo, like at the supermarket or buying coffee.

It also provides a chance for te reo to be heard in corners of Aotearoa where it might not be so common.

One of the leaders of the initiative, Lyndsay Te Puaheiri Snowden, said Mahuru Māori began with mātanga reo Paraone Gloyne, who rather than speaking te reo for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori committed to speak it for the entire month of September in all facets of his life.

Mahuru Māori 2023 logo.

Photo: Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

"[At the start] I think it was just Paraone and himself... and then it went from two to three, 2018 was a few hundred, 2019 onwards it's come into the thousands and the reason for that is it's actually a good indication of the willingness to participate in and contribute to our language, not just Mahuru Māori but our language."

Mahuru Māori is run by the Māori tertiary institute Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Te Puaheiri said the Wānanga was the custodian of the kaupapa, but Mahuru Māori is for everyone.

So far this year, 2000 people have registered to take part in the kaupapa, with challenges ranging from speaking te reo for one hour a day to speaking every day for the whole month.

Registrations will stay open for the entirety of the month, Te Puaheiri said.

In the past, Mahuru Māori began at the start of the Gregorian month of September. Now the dates have been aligned to better reflect the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar.

"It's about re-indigenising or putting a Māori lens on the way we act in our daily activity. So not just from our vernacular, not just from our language, but the way we understand time," Te Puaheiri said.

Te reo can often become politicised, with bilingual road signs and Māori names for government departments attracting a backlash, but Te Puaheiri said regardless of politics this initiative and te reo itself would always remain.

"Te reo Māori is beyond political, it's a language and it's a doorway, a window to the minds and the thoughts of our tūpuna."

And as for why Mahuru Māori takes place in September, Te Puaheiri was not quite sure.

"I think it sounds good for branding when you have Mahuru Māori - I couldn't figure if Whiringa-ā-nuku Māori would really go well on a t-shirt."

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