Let's korero whānau.

Today marks the beginning of this year's Te Wiki o te reo Māori - Maori Language Week and with it comes an intense spotlight on what is being done nationwide to not just retain the Māori language, but also preserve tikanga Māori (culture).

I'll admit when I first moved to Rotorua, my te reo knowledge was lacking. I could remember some of the basic phrases we learnt in primary school, I knew to take my shoes off before entering a marae, and I knew of Māori legends like Hatupatu and the Birdwoman (which terrified me, by the way!).

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But beyond that, I was really out of my depth.

I certainly don't profess to be proficient now, but I have made a concerted effort to improve both my understanding of te reo and my confidence in using it.

Being stationed at the Rotorua Daily Post has played a big role in this.

Incorporating te reo Māori into our everyday lives is something we at the Rotorua Daily Post proudly promote and in fact, new research by University of Waikato masters student Katie Levendis backs this up.

Levendis has looked at newspapers in the North Island over a decade (2008 to 2017), tracking Māori "loanwords'"- any Māori words used in New Zealand English, like iwi, marae, whānau, kapa haka, pākehā and, of course, Māori.

Among her findings was that the Rotorua Daily Post used the most loanwords in print, concluding the paper "appears to be actively engaged in promoting the language".

I am looking forward to hearing all the kia oras and ka kites as more people adopt te reo this week but I'd also like to issue a challenge: Why stop after a week?

Is it really so hard to replace your daily 'hello' with kia ora? Or say to your colleague you'll go with them to get kai (food) after the hui (meeting)?


When you start actively integrating te reo into your daily life, you'll discover how quickly it becomes second nature.

Te Wiki o te reo Māori is a great way to start you on this journey, but let it be just that - the start.