Monday, 23 April 2012


Have you noticed how many Maori (and Pasifika) words have been adopted into daily Kiwi usage?

I was reading an article by Max Cryer (2012, p. 43) recently, where he said "More Maori words have moved into the vernacular and everyday reportage. In 2001 an Australian journalist visiting New Zealand wrote with surprise that he needed a dictionary to read the daily newspaper because so many Maori words were in everyday use".

Well, I would suggest in the intervening eleven years, many more words have made the leap to everyday usage; due to Maori TV, Kohunga Reo and plain, good old education. Kiwis don't need an explanation for mokopuna, tamariki, kia kaha, urupā and wharepaku, and understand National Radio announcers saying "Ata mārie, nga mihi o te wā" on Morning Report.Our language has also adopted blends of Maori and English - Kiwitanga for things that are precious to New Zealanders, and half-pai for kinda sorta good.

Not only is the daily expansion and evolution of our language a wonderful thing, what it says about who we are is also quite special. I think it means that, as a nation, we are growing up. All New Zealanders are taking their place with pride; in the Pacific, not in the North Sea.

Congratulations, Aotearoa. Kia kaha.

Reference: Cryer, Max (2012). Our Evolving Language. Alive, Issue 10, 2012 (pp. 42-45). NZ: Southern Cross Health Society.


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