Dr Karyn Paringatai
Maori should be part of everyday conversation, an
award-winning academic says.
''It takes only one generation to lose a language but three
to get it back again,'' Dr Karyn Paringatai said.
This Monday marked the start of Whakanuia Te Wiki o te Reo
Maori 2014, or Celebrate Maori Language Week 2014.
This year's theme was Te Kupu o te Wiki or The Word of the
Week, which encourages people to learn a new Maori word each
week for 50 weeks.
Dr Paringatai said a week just wasn't ''cutting it'' for
those who taught te reo, and welcomed the move to encourage
learning the language over the whole year.
''It is during the week, then we forget about it ... but
consciousness needs to be raised every single day.''
And she should know.
Earlier this month, the lecturer at the University of Otago's
Te Tumu School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies won
the Prime Minister's Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching
Her work included the promotion of te reo.
''Language is everything''.
She said people should never be scared to give Maori language
a go, and ''if in doubt, ask''.
''All learners of languages make mistakes.
''Giving it a try is better than not giving it a go at all,''
Dr Paringatai said, as she urged people to use everyday Maori
She rejected any reports the language was dying as ''there
are too many staunch advocates of the Maori language to allow
that to ever happen''.
''For a long time we have been in that dying phase and that
is purely because educational policies have enabled that to
More Maori words were entering the New Zealand-English
There were words such as kiwi, totara, weka, which had no
English translation, and words such as aroha ''which not only
means love but also means compassion, and respect for other
people,'' she said.
However, there were also local Maori place names which had
been pronounced incorrectly for too long - places such as
Waikouaiti, Otakou, Wakari and Opoho, she said.