E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha. Tēnā koutou katoa.

(All authorities, all voices, all affiliations, greetings to you all).

This week is Māori Language week. This annnual event is a popular initiative promoting the use of Māori language across New Zealand and is widely regarded as a successful way to revitalise the language.

While Māori is the indigenous language of New Zealand, it was only adopted as an official language of New Zealand in 1987.

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Over the years, the language has struggled to stay alive and research shows only around 3 per cent of the population can converse in te reo Māori. Of late there seems to have been a resurgence of interest and more people than ever are seeking to learn at least some te reo.

The use of the language in every day life has become more common in recent years and government facilities such as schools lead the way.

From singing Māori songs, story books written in te reo and bilingual signs throughout schools, the use of te reo is being increasingly promoted and more integrated into our daily conversations. In facilities like hospitals and all other government agencies, there is a clear commitment to providing information in both English and te reo.

As a council we too are obligated to comply with our legislative responsibilities, including those specifically focused on tikanga Māori. Recently, as a council we have reflected on this responsibility and asked ourselves how should we best meet those obligations? Like most things, being better informed and gaining greater understanding of the subject is a great place to start.

This led to elected members and staff taking part in a 10 week tikanga Māori training course under the guidance of tutor Morgana Watson. I found the course a genuinely beneficial learning experience, and am certain all participants now feel better equipped and more comfortable with tikanga Māori and the use of basic te reo.

As we move forward and challenge ourselves to be more willing to apply our broader knowledge, I foresee that council decisions will integrate more Māori perspectives and an increased use of te reo.

Last year council's community services team re-recorded the words of Romeo and Juliet that are played from the glockenspiel four times daily, and when doing so, recorded a Māori language version. This week the te reo version will play instead of the traditional English version.

This is not the first time that a Shakespearean play has been performed in te reo but to our knowledge it is unique in a glockenspiel setting. How this is received will be interesting.

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I anticipate there will be very different views, ranging from those who listen and hear it as a thing of beauty, while others may criticise and mock the use of te reo in a play written in English. Personally, I see it as a way to celebrate one of our three national languages in our Shakespearean themed town.

Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.