The Importance Of The M?ori Language

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A prime function of the Kōhanga Reo (literally “language nest”) movement was to help the revival of the Māori language in New Zealand. Kōhanga Reo are effectively preschools which are run entirely in the Māori language, and also focus on passing on the Māori values, traditions and culture to a younger generation. The concept of Kōhanga Reo came about in the late 1970s in response to the decline of Māori language, and culture and was made possible by years of campaigning mostly by Māori people. This essay will look at how the push for the revitalisation of the Māori language is marked by the successful establishment of Kōhanga Reo throughout New Zealand, demonstrating the need for the survival of the Māori language, and will consider Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory on the importance of spoken language over written word. The decline in the spoken Māori language in Māori societies first began when there was a shift from the majority of Māori being monolingual, to bilingual which introduced English (Te Ara). This was a direct response to the number of Europeans surpassing the Māori in New Zealand, making Māori the minority language (Human Rights Commission). In 1867 the Native Schools Act decreed that, “English should be the only language used in the education of Māori children” (HRC). In the 1930s some Europeans pushed for English to become the one language used in New Zealand, with the Director of Education in 1930 saying “the natural abandonment of the native tongue

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