Maori translationEnglish translation

Te Taurawhiri I Te Reo Māori Māori Language Commission


History of the Māori Language

A History of the Māori language - Beginning in pre-1840 when Māori was the predominant language in Aotearoa, through to today.

Pre-1840 Māori is the predominant language of New Zealand. It is used extensively in social, religious, commercial and political interactions among Māori, and between Māori and Pākehā. Education provided by missionaries is conveyed in Māori.
1840 Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Māori is the predominant language of New Zealand.
1842 First Māori language newspaper is published.
1850s Pākehā population surpasses the  Māori population. Māori becomes a minority language in New Zealand.
1858 First official census to collect data about  Māori records a population of 56,049 Māori people.
1867 Native Schools Act decrees that English should be the only language used in the education of   Māori children. The policy is later rigorously enforced.
1870s Following the New Zealand Wars, society divides into two distinct zones, the Māori zone and the  Pākehā zone. Māori is the predominant language of the  Māori zone.
1890s Many Māori language newspapers publish national and international news. Māori is the predominant language of the Māori zone.
1896 Māori population, as recorded by official census, reaches lowest point. A Māori population of 42,113 people is recorded.
1913 Ninety percent of Māori school children are native Māori speakers. Te Puke ki Hikurangi, Te Mareikura and other Māori newspapers publish national and international news and events in Māori as well extensive coverage of farming activities.
1920s Sir Āpirana Ngata begins lecturing Māori communities about the need to promote Māori language use in homes and communities, while also promoting English language education for Māori in schools.
1930s Māori remains the predominant language in Māori homes and communities. The use of English begins to increase, and there is continued support for English-only education by some Māori leaders.
1940s Māori urban migration begins.
1950s Māori urban migration continues. Māori families are 'pepper-potted' in predominantly non-Māori suburbs, preventing the reproduction of Māori community and speech patterns. Māori families choose to speak English, and Māori children are raised as English speakers.
1951 Māori population is recorded in official census as 134,097 people.
1960s Play centre supporters encourage Māori parents to speak English in order to prepare Māori children for primary school.
1961 Hunn Report describes the Māori language as a relic of ancient Māori life.
Early 1970s Concerns for the Māori language are expressed by Māori urban groups including Ngā Tamatoa and Te Reo Māori Society.
1972 Māori Language Petition signed by 30,000 signatories sent to Parliament.
1973-78 NZCER national survey shows that only about 70,000 Māori, or 18-20 percent of Māori, are fluent Māori speakers, and that most are elderly.
1975 Ngāti Raukawa, NgātiToa and Te Āti Awa initiate Whakatipuranga Rua Mano, a tribal development exercise which emphasises Māori language development.
1978 Rūātoki School becomes the first bilingual school in New Zealand.
1979-80 Te Ātaarangi movement established in an attempt to restore Māori language knowledge to Māori adults.
1981 Te Wānanga o Raukawa established in Ōtaki.
1982 Te Kōhanga Reo established in an attempt to instil Māori language knowledge to Māori infants.
1980s Experiments in Māori radio broadcasting lead to the establishment of Te Upoko o te Ika and Radio Ngāti Porou.
1985 First Kura Kaupapa Māori established to cater for the needs of the Māori children emerging from Te Kōhanga Reo.
1985 Te Reo Māori claim WAI 11 brought before the Waitangi Tribunal by Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo Māori. The number of Māori speakers is estimated to have fallen to about 50,000 or 12 percent of the Māori population.
1986 Te Reo Māori Report released by Waitangi Tribunal, recommending that legislation be introduced to enable Māori language to be used in Courts of Law, and that a supervising body be established by statute to supervise and foster the use of the Māori language.  
1987 Māori Language Act passed in Parliment; Māori declared to be an official language and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori established. Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust also established.
1989 Education Amendment Act provides formal recognition for Kura Kaupapa Māori and wānanga (Māori tertiary institutions). Government reserves radio and television broadcasting frequencies for use by Māori.
1991 Broadcasting Assets case initiated. Census records Māori population as 435,619.
1993 Māori broadcasting funding agency Te Māngai Pāho established to promote Māori language and culture. More than twenty iwi radio stations broadcast throughout the country.

Mai Time, Māori and Pacific focused youth television programme pilot launched.

1995 He Taonga Te Reo (Māori language year) celebrated. Hui Taumata Reo Māori held in Wellington. A national Māori language survey shows that the number of Māori adults that are very fluent speakers of Māori has fallen to about 10,000.
1996 Aotearoa Television Network broadcasts a trial free-to-air television service in the Auckland area.

Mai Time, now broadcast on a weekly basis.

1997 A total of 675 Te Kōhanga Reo and 30 developing Te Kōhanga Reo cater to 13,505 children. There are 54 Kura Kaupapa Māori and three whare wānanga. Over 32,000 students receive Māori medium education and another 55,399 learn the Māori language.
1998 Government announces funding for Māori television channel and increased funding for Te Māngai Pāho. Government also announces that it has set aside a $15M fund for Community Māori Language Initiatives.
1999 Tūmeke, a Māori Language youth programme began screening on Television 4.
2000 Tūmeke changes broadcasters and name to Pūkana now showing on TV 3.
2001 Government announces its support and management structure for Māori Television channel. Government also announces that it will soon begin allocating the $15M fund.
2001 Uia Ngā Whetū: Hui taumata reo hosted in Wellington by Te Taura Whiri
2001 Health of the Māori Language Survey 2001 shows there are approximately 136,700 Māori language speakers
2002 Uia Ngā Kāinga: Hui taumata reo hosted in Wellington by Te Taura Whiri
2002 Mā te Reo Fund established to support Māori language growth in communities.
2003 7th Polynesian Languages Forum – Te Reo i te Whenua Tipu, Language in the Homeland
2003 Revised Government Māori Language Strategy launched
2003 Māori Television Service Act passed in Parliament
2004 Māori Television Service begins broadcasting 28 March.
First inaugural Māori Language Week Awards held in Wellington 14 September.


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