• Stacey Morrison is a drive show host on the hits, a proud Maori speaker and co-author of the book Māori at Home: An Everyday Guide to Learning the Maori Language
If Te reo Māori is 'a patient on life support' you could say my husband and I awoke from our own 'reo coma' of a monolingual childhood, and breathed life into the language of our family, by raising our children as Māori speakers.
We're not much of a curiosity in the circles we move in, which includes many Māori speakers, but when speaking Māori in public we've had various responses: "What's that language you're speaking with your children, it's so exotic! Are you from South America?" (It's Māori. "Oh my gosh, I'm terrible with languages, sorry…")
"You don't hear Māori being spoken very much do you" (well, yes I do, every day actually. So by 'you' I think you mean 'I')
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"You shouldn't be speaking that Jungle Language, this is New Zealand" (I'll just leave that one hanging.)
None of those comments rile me, even the last one, because they reflect the language paradigm those people live in, and perhaps some benefits of bilingualism they're missing out on, like tuning your ear, and broadening your cultural experience. I can accept Prof. Moon's comments because the headlines actually fuel a growing tide of change for Te Reo Māori.
I even agree on his points that we need to speak Māori in our homes - we support families to do so – boost kōhanga and kura, and speak Māori every day, in order for it to be a thriving, living language. As Prof. Temara has said 'he's not saying anything we don't know.'
What we need to know is if you will make a change, today, albeit small, not 'when I do a Māori course' or 'when I'm fluent'. Will you bother to say Matamata as "MutterMutter" instead of "MatterMatter" and not get defensive because you're changing the pronunciation you've come to know. Is that too much to ask?