When Manuel Springford started speaking te reo Maori on Mondays he didn't expect it to become as popular as it has.

At first it was something the Whangarei man did to improve his own knowledge of the language but one year later it has also helped his friends and whanau.

"Everybody I've talked to is really open about it. Now I actually get people coming up to me and asking me questions for help and pronunciation. Not just on social media but even out on the surf."

His idea for te reo Maori Mondays came when he found he had nowhere to use the language after his grandfather died.


He said his kaupapa has changed a bit since he first started. He used to speak te reo Maori exclusively on Mondays.

Now he speaks English first and then te reo Maori so that others can learn.

"Most people I'm in contact with chuck the odd Maori word in whether they are texting me, emailing me, or talking to me on the phone. Even the people who speak no te reo at all."

Since starting Maori Mondays Mr Springford was awarded the Te Toa Reo Maori - Takitahi (Individual Achievement) award at the Maori Language Commission's Nga Tohu Reo Maori, Maori Language Awards last year.

Mr Springford said when he first started Maori Mondays it was tough on his workmate who didn't speak any Maori at all.

"Now he quite enjoys it. On Mondays I pretty much speak to him exclusively in te reo Maori and he pretty much gets the gist of it now.

"It's pretty rewarding and inspiring that he's taken it on board. I'm pretty stoked and I'm sure secretly he is as well."

As part of a new study by Maori by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research on the revitalisation of te reo Maori, commissioned by Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori (The Maori Language Commission), 32 people in Kaitaia, and 40 people in Matawaia who spoke te reo Maori, or supported speakers of the language, were interviewed.

Results showed people found it easier to speak te reo Maori in settings where it was seen as normal.

Other barriers included having no one to talk to; limited proficiency; shyness or lack of confidence; and the expectations of others that English would be used.

Mr Springford said he got through barriers by keeping it simple.

"If I'm talking to someone that can't speak te reo Maori I'll describe it to them so they understand."

The first anniversary of Te Reo Maori Mondays is tomorrow, which was a Monday last year.

Mr Springford said he would mark the date by speaking te reo Maori on Tuesday.