A Northland man who has won a prestigious award for his efforts promoting te reo Maori says sometimes the most simple idea can be the most effective.
Every Monday, for the past six months, Manuel Springford has been using te reo Maori to not only improve his knowledge, but to promote the language.
This idea, known as Maori Mondays, has won Mr Springford the Te Toa Reo Maori - Takitahi (Individual Achievement) award at the Maori Language Commission's Nga Tohu Reo Maori, Maori Language Awards.
Mr Springford, of Te Rarawa and Ngai Tahu descent, wasn't able to make it to the awards in New Plymouth on Friday so received the news by email while in Oakura, north east of Whangarei.
"I was pretty happy, I woke everyone up. It must have been around 10pm. I sent a few texts around in the middle of the night, too."
Mr Springford, who now speaks Maori every day, was nominated for the award by the Northern Advocate because of the range of people who have been encouraged to learn te reo Maori through Maori Mondays. By speaking te reo Maori no matter where he is, he is exposing people to the language.
Mr Springford said because of this, he has noticed many people had decided to give te reo Maori a go. His Facebook group Maori Mondays - a place to learn, has a following of 782 people.
"Everyone's been real supportive. No one's been derogatory about it. I think people understand that is part of who I am and accept it. People can see I'm quite happy in myself."
Mr Springford said he started speaking te reo Maori on Mondays because he found he had nowhere to speak it after his grandfather died. He said the award showed that sometimes simple ideas can be effective.
"I think it was simple and it wasn't really coming from any where. It was a guy trying to speak Maori. I think because people aren't being forced to do it, they just do it. I think the most simple ideas are the best for sure," he said.
Mr Springford said winning the award was overwhelming, unexpected and thought his grandfather would be proud.
"I think it makes everyone realise that anyone can achieve anything. It doesn't matter who you are. I think it's made people think a lot about themselves and everyone I know is making an effort to speak a little bit of te reo Maori."