In Shanghai a few years back the street hawkers were something to behold.

It's the most aggressive selling on the globe. After a few days dodging and fleeing, you develop your own aversion tactics and escape routes (difficult with such a wealth of humanity).

Our Kiwi guide suggested we forcefully voice "Bu yao", which is a slightly rude way of saying "Don't want". It sometimes worked.

Read more: Hawke's Bay welcomes Maori Language Week

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But the best technique was to pretend you didn't understand their pitch or pidgin English.

So, rather than adopt the local lingo, or try to use English to ward them off (which only encouraged them), I found using "kia ora" worked best.

It was a most effective element of surprise; a greeting they'd never heard of from the mysterious Antipodes. It seemed to have the effect of curbing their enthusiasm and they gave up, realising language - and hence communication - was impossible.

While it was desirable for Te Reo to be obscure in China, it's heartening to know this week, officially Maori Language Week, is geared to grow, nurture and celebrate the language on our own doorstep.

This year's theme, Kia ora te reo Māori was chosen to "celebrate New Zealand's indigenous greeting".

It's also heartening to see locals like Maori adviser Charles Ropitini making a good case for why it needs to be heard more often on our streets, why it's desirable to do so in front of our visitors hungry for foreign culture, and more importantly why it isn't just a Maori responsibility to nourish it.