Hastings councillor Jacoby Poulain is backing te wiki o te reo Maori and urges people to give the language a go.

Today marks the first day of an annual campaign led by the Maori Language Commission.

The campaign aims to raise awareness and encourage people to incorporate te reo in their speech, not only this week but all year round.

Ms Poulain said she started learning the language at primary school and picked it up again as an adult.


While not yet fluent, she said she could now understand the gist of conversations on the marae. "It's an important skill set to have. It's important that we understand each other's cultures."

This year's theme for the week is akina te reo, meaning behind you all the way, which is about using te reo Maori to support, inspire and cheer people on.

Following on from last year's approach, the commission will present 50 phrases in te reo Maori that everyone can use, even if you have never spoken the language before.

The future of te reo Maori was the subject of a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal in 1985.

Maori became an official language of New Zealand in 1987 and each year since 1975, New Zealand has celebrated Maori Language Week. Ms Poulain said she had noticed the increasing openness of different groups' attitudes towards the language, especially the week-long campaign.

If people had an interest in the language then they should give it a go, she said.

"It depends on people's levels, just learning the basic introductions ... it gives mana to yourself as the learner."

Maori culture and the language go "hand in hand", the Flaxmere ward councillor said. Learning about one inspires you to learn about the other, she said.

Eastern Institute of Technology is getting in the spirit by showcasing the language with daily activities to celebrate and promote te reo Maori. The institute's Maori and Pasifika liaison adviser, Lee Kershaw-Karaitiana, said the school for Maori studies, Te Uranga Waka, would be transformed into "a vibrant hub" for the week.

EIT on-campus activities, workshops and film screenings, developed in collaboration with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori (the Maori Language Commission), are free and open to all.

First up is a traditional tattoo workshop based on traditional and contemporary tools which will be led by an EIT graduate, Jahvan Apatu.

They are also hosting a quiz, a sporting session and a film screening.