Tauranga students will come together on Tuesday to celebrate te reo Māori despite restrictions under alert level 2.
This comes as the Māori Language Commission is calling on all New Zealanders to take part in a Māori Language Moment in line with Te Wiki o te reo Māori.
The commission is hoping two million people will join the movement by speaking, singing and celebrating te reo at 12pm tomorrow.
Arataki School principal Shelley Blakey said the school was hoping to "ramp up" their involvement in the initiative this year, however this had become tricky due to alert level 2 restrictions.
All students were going to come together to sing waiata, however, classes now had to do it separately.
"We were hoping to do it all together, but of course we can't because singing is a high-risk activity."
"Staff will take a video of the kids singing, and we will put it together and have it as a resource for families," she said.
She said all New Zealanders should be taking part in this initiative.
"It is one of our official languages, and the resurgence of te reo is just so exciting. To be part of that in school is a real privilege."
She considered the school was lucky to have a "really strong" bilingual unit, with four classrooms catering to roughly 100 students from all year groups.
"Our level of expertise in our school is phenomenal, we are really lucky to draw on that. Often the kids are the experts which is so amazing," she said.
Celebrating Māori language week was "really important", however Blakey said the students learning would not differ much from other weeks.
"Celebrating it is an integral part of who we are as a school."
"A lot of what we are doing next week is normal anyway. It is turning it into a celebration."
10-year-old Arataki School student Kurei Kaha Harawira, who would be getting involved tomorrow, said he felt "strong" when practising haka and kapa haka.
"I feel my ancestors in me, when I am doing my haka and kapa haka.
"I feel happy inside, and I hope my ancestors do. I want to step foot in where they were before. "
As of 2pm on Friday, there had been 7509 registrations for the virtual event consisting of 1699 individuals and 5874 organisations in the Bay of Plenty.
Māori Language Commission chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui said te reo Māori was still endangered and it needed to be protected.
"The same way we protect our people: because like our families, te reo is our taonga," she said.
This year the commission was hoping to see two million New Zealanders celebrate join the movement.
"We also want to set the world record for people speaking and celebrating an endangered, indigenous language at the same time. Last year more than 1 million people joined us for our Māori Language Moment."
Participants would be able to celebrate te reo from wherever they were, in whatever way they wished.
And the commission would be registering its world record attempt with the Guinness Book of World Records.
Māori Language Commissioner professor Rawinia Higgins said it took one generation to lose a language, and three to get it back.
"If we are to safeguard te reo we need 1 million speakers by 2040.
"A key contributor to the death of a language is societal attitudes.
"It is about us standing together as New Zealanders and saying we want to protect our language for future generations because te reo is the language of our nation."
For more information, visit www.reomaori.co.nz
Kia ora koutou, dear readers. As Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2021 gets under way you will notice something a little different about the Bay of Plenty Times. While in recent years we've changed our masthead to mark the week, this year we've made a long-term change instead, introducing the te reo name Te Waiariki to the front page, for this week and beyond.
Te Waiariki is the Māori word for the local area and the name we've adopted to best reflect our community.
Throughout this week the Bay of Plenty Times - Te Waiariki - will look at the strength and growth of te reo and meet those who make it part of their everyday lives as we mark Te Wiki.
The Bay of Plenty Times team