A Waitangi kuia hopes Maori Language Week this week will spur iwi organisations and marae committees to hold all their meetings and write minutes in te reo Maori.
Hinehou Apiata said te reo should be at the heart of hapu and marae business and it was up to kaumatua and kuia to ensure it was the primary language spoken.
"There are already Maori groups and marae who do this, and good on them, but I believe it should be something for all to aim for," Ms Apiata said. "There's a lot of talk about te reo but we older ones should lead by example."
There should be no shame attached to a person's lack of te reo but the everyday business of hapu and marae offered opportunities for it to be learned or improved, Ms Apiata said. With kaumatua and kuia taking the lead, the meeting or marae forum would provide a safe, accessible learning environment for whanau who were not fluent in te reo, she said. "I believe this would be the real turning point. It's a responsibility that should belong to the people, not just schools."
There were many fluent speakers among older Maori and increasingly among school children, but many in the middle generations had missed out, she said. The kaupapa of the 2015 Maori Language Week - which runs from today until August 2 - is to encourage and support the language development of parents who can then pass the language to their children.-You can also find free online resources to download to learn more about te reo Maori at: www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz
Te reo leader honour
Erima Henare was in the middle of planning Maori Language Week when he died - the Ngati Hine leader will be acknowledged at the launch of Te Wiki o te reo Maori in Wellington today.
Mr Henare was chairman of the Maori Language Commission and a champion of te reo Maori. He passed away in May after dedicating years to the language's survival.
Former Maori Language Commission chief executive, Glenis Philip-Barbara, worked with Mr Henare for five years.
"The kaupapa of this year's event was one dear to his heart - it's about encouraging the people so they can pass the language to the children. It's about the older generation speaking and encouraging te reo Maori - this was something hugely important to him."
The theme for this year is Whangaihia te reo ki nga Matua, which is about encouraging parents to learn and speak te reo Maori.
Maori Language week runs until Sunday, August 2.
To livestream the launch visit www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz. The launch kicks off with a powhiri at 9.30am, with a dedication to Erima Henare expected at 10.45am.