Maori Language Week is in full swing and local bodies throughout the region are embracing re reo Maori every chance they get.

Napier City Council Maori advisor Charles Ropitini said the council was using social media to reflect a shift in the way the governing body was utilising the language.

Read more: Te reo celebrated in Maori Language Week

"We'll be using our Facebook page to put out messages in Maori, also acknowledging the 10th anniversary of Maori music awards this week, and speaking directly to a Maori audience for consultation on Maori wards which is very topical at the moment."


He said despite art deco architecture displaying Maori designs, Napier was virtually "silent" when it came to speaking the native language.

"We have some of the most decorative Maori commercial buildings in the country by high concentration and density which we now call Maori art deco.

"Yet although it's visibly one of the most Maori CBDs in the country, the language is nearly silent so it's just a case of being heard as well as being seen."

Formerly the Maori advisor for Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG), Mr Ropitini said it was everyone's, not just Maori's, responsibility to nourish the language.

"It's our national tongue, it's our [identity] as New Zealanders, not just Maori. When people come here, I see it when people come off the cruise ships, they want to engage in another language; they want to engage in another culture."

Running until September 17th, this year's Te Wiki o te reo Māori is "kia ora te reo Māori" which translates to "let the language live".

The theme was chosen because 'Kia ora' was both New Zealand's indigenous greeting and an exact description of the intent of the new partnerships for te reo Maori revitalisation between the Crown and Maori under the new Maori Language Act 2016.

Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said he wanted the native tongue to be a way of life for all New Zealanders.

"Give it a go, we're here to help and we're here to support. As long as people are having a go we'll encourage it."

He said learning te reo was incredibly important; noting if people could adopt native languages while travelling overseas, such as "Bonjour" in France, then they could do the same here.

The chairman said corporates such as Air New Zealand were now "setting the pace" when it came to speaking the native language.

"Its unbelievably good. It's uplifting and when you hear non-Maori using it [te reo]. You think 'Wow, it's even more powerful'. That's our goal now; to take te reo out to non-Maori and to encourage our community partners to speak it."

Plans to invite local stakeholders in Hawke's Bay, such as corporates and councils, to a Maori language symposium early next year were in place to encourage more of the community to embrace the language, he said.

"I think we're getting to the stage where we want to socialise this issue with our communities and it has to be community-driven for it to become successful."

Mr Ropitini said there was much to gain by speaking re reo Maori in the community.

"My overall goal is to ensure we have very strong relationships with mana whenua and tangata whenua, and that that's reflected through council business and how we do things.

"We're working towards a cohesive bicultural society and, in-turn, a cohesive multi-cultural society."