This week is te reo Māori week.
It has been in existence since 1975 after evolving from Māori language day that was brought into existence in 1972 after the Te Reo Māori Society took a petition to Parliament with more than 30,000 signatures calling the government to offer the Māori language in schools.
Te reo Māori became an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand in 1987 through the Māori Language Act. That same act also setting up Te taura Whiri I te reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission which led to the first radio station, Te Upoko o te Ika, being established.
Various developments occurred to develop and foster te reo Māori including Te Ataarangi with the first kohanga reo or te reo Māori nest named Pukeatua being established in Wainuiomata in 1982.
This led to a resurgence in te reo Māori and the formation of kura kaupapa Māori or full immersion learning in te reo Māori. The first school of this kind was Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae which started in 1985 and was recognised in legislation in 1989.
Kura Kaupapa Māori are now an integral part of education with Rotorua having four, or five if we include Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Rotoiti. The other kura kaupapa Māori in Rotorua being Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hurungaterangi.
Each of these kura are full immersion schools teaching subjects such as mathematics, sciences and the like in te reo Māori. Most of these kura also having students from Year 0 to Year 13.
Back in 1930, T B Strong, who was the director of education, made the comment "the natural abandonment of the native tongue inflicts no loss on the Māori".
That statement and the policies around it led to the huge loss of te reo Māori in many households with Māori people as recent as my parents being strapped for speaking te reo Māori at school.
Te reo Māori has its place in Aotearoa New Zealand and that recognition is being acknowledged through more than one week of the year.
However, it has taken moments of courage to get te reo Māori to the better state it would appear to be in today, especially with more non-Māori learning and speaking te reo Māori.
Courage such as that demonstrated by Vicky Lee and Cindi Joe who became the first people to publicly sing the New Zealand National anthem in both Māori and English. This took place at the Kiwis-Britain test in 1992.
Their courage being emulated by Hinewehi Mohi who sang only the first verse in te reo Māori at the 1999 Rugby World cup match between the All Blacks and England.
Having said that, it may interest you to know that a full Māori version of our national anthem has been in existence since 1878 when it was first published in the Otago newspapers, the New Zealand government buying the copyright for a version back in 1940.
Kia kaha te reo Māori, speak Māori, we owe it to our history and indeed to all of the people of our wonderful nation to do so.
- Ngahihi o te ra Bidois is an international Keynote speaker, businessman, author, columnist, husband and father