A parade to celebrate and promote Māori Language Week has "grown beyond our wildest expectations", organisers say.
For the first time, a parade to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori will be held in Whangārei next Friday.
Moana-Aroha Henry, Whangārei Girls' High School kaiako Māori, said the school-led initiative started from wanting to take a community-based approach to Māori Language Week, which starts on Monday.
"The bigger cities like Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland are doing a hikoi. So we thought why can't Whangārei do one too? So this will be the first time for Whangārei.
"We're looking at coming together as a Māori reo community, so not necessarily just Māori but non-Māori that are enthused by te reo Māori, and trying to normalise te reo Māori in our community," she said.
The parade will start with a karakia outside the Whangārei Library at 10.30am. From there it will move to the Cameron St mall where there will be a flash mob haka and waiata before the hikoi proceeds to the Canopy Bridge at the Town Basin.
Ringi Hohepa, WGHS Head of Māori, said so far 1400 people from the Far North to Kaipara had registered their attendance for the parade.
"We first thought it would just be Whangārei Girls' High School and a couple of whanaunga who are already in the world of te reo Maori," she said.
"About time - I think that's what the reaction was - someone has finally got the passion to carry this."
Kim Rogers, Whangārei Girls High School deputy principal, said the parade was a positive affirmation of te reo Māori.
"We hope to highlight te reo is here to stay, it's not going away. It's one of three official languages of Aotearoa (along with English and NZ Sign Language) and we've got support in our community and our rohe of Te Tai Tokerau."
Hohepa said because the number of attendees had exceeded expectations, the group was looking for an extra barbecue and sausages. If you can help email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, Far North te reo speakers of all levels can boost their language skills with te reo Māori scrabble and a range of other activities to celebrate the week.
Punters have the opportunity to challenge Far North District Councillors and staff to a game of te reo Scrabble at Kaikohe Library during Māori Language Week.
There will be three levels of difficulty with beginners allowed to use a Māori dictionary, an intermediate level, and an advanced level that uses Scrabble tiles with macrons.
Those looking for a less challenging way to celebrate Māori Language Week can attend special preschool storytime sessions at Kaitaia Library from 10.30am on Monday, or at Kaeo, Kaikohe, Kawakawa and Procter libraries from 10.30am on Tuesday.
For a full schedule of activities at your local library or to book a te reo Scrabble game at Kaikohe Library, call 0800 920 029 or 09 401 5200.