Skip to main content

Te Reo Māori moment marked at Ara | Te Pūkenga with celebration and a challenge

Te reo ākonga Matt Calman urges Ara to be a leader in breaking down barriers

Haka.jpgHaka marked the midday moment the Māori language petition was presented in 1972

Ara | Te Pūkenga launched something new during this year’s midday nationwide Māori Language Moment.

Midday on September 14th marks the very moment the Māori Language Petition was presented to parliament in 1972, on the first Māori Language Day. Three years later, it became what we now know as Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

The moment was marked with the introduction of a new all-encompassing concept at Ara | Te Pūkenga: “Manawa Reo”.

Manawa Reo, which runs from September 11 to October 13, complements and incorporates Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, an initiative led by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission) and Mahuru Māori, the annual month-long campaign driven by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa which seeks to extend our focus on te reo Māori over a longer period and pave the way for a future where te reo Māori is living again every day.


Te Marino Lenihan, Executive Director Treaty Partnerships at Ara | Te Pūkenga said Manawa Reo encompassed Te Pūkenga values of Manawa Nui (we reach out and welcome in) Manawa Roa (we learn and achieve together) and Manawa Ora (we strengthen and grow the whole person).

“This year, we wanted to find a way to celebrate te reo Māori in a manner that honoured and celebrated our new identity as Te Pūkenga while also complementing the leadership from Te Wananga o Aotearoa and Te Taura Whiri over the years,” Lenihan said.

"We wanted to carry on the efforts of those before us, and Manawa Reo – our new brand – has been coined in a way that we hope others in our region and wider sector can pick up and carry forward too.”

“The intent behind Manawa Reo is to recognise the essential role te reo Māori plays in growing and supporting Māori achievement, national identity and general community wellbeing,” Lenihan said.

Amid the midday Manawa Reo celebrations which featured karakia, waiata, mākete (market) of small Māori owned businesses and kai came a powerful challenge from the event’s keynote speaker – a Level 4 ākonga on his te reo Māori journey with strong aspirations.


A celebrated author, athlete and photographer, Matt Calman pointed out the uncertainty of continuity of te reo Māori courses at Ara and the high cost faced by those wishing to study advanced te reo Māori.

He said when he signed up to “ignite his reo journey” at Ara after “decades of winging it on his own” he was unaware future programmes would be under doubt, and he urged Ara to be a leader in breaking down barriers.

“Those who commit to te reo Māori beyond level four will be true champions of the reo. We will serve our communities, our institutions and our whānau,” Calman said.

“I challenge Ara | Te Pūkenga to match that commitment…  with continuous delivery of courses that will allow our amazing kaiako to deliver what they have created for us. Entice the learners to flock here by setting reasonable fees beyond Level 4 and clear the path for us to see our way to gain a degree if we want to,” he said.

In response, Te Marino Lenihan noted that a formal paper had been shared with Te Pūkenga leadership that raised the matters and implored the sector to apply a relentless focus on equity with urgency.

 “We know that te reo has value for all New Zealanders and we are aware of the huge demand now to learn it. We are also conscious that te reo was systemically taken away from Māori through deliberate policies and practices embedded within our educational institutions,” he said.

“We live in a new era now, and we believe that these same institutions can be a key part of the solution to reverse that reality. Te Pūkenga can be a champion for change, lead through equity, and enable Māori to re-learn their ancestral language at a level that allows them to pass it on once again as a mother tongue.”

Manawa Reo events and activities to promote te reo Māori will continue through the until the middle of October.

Read Matt Calman’s full kōrero here.