Celebrating Te Reo

We’re still enjoying the upsurge in use and acknowledgement of Te Reo Maori.  And we urge you all to read the excellent article on page 112 of  the September-October issue of New Zealand Geographic.

Kennedy Warne’s essay,  A Flash of Fire: what a difference a name makes , explores the differences between Maori and English government organisational names.  It is one of the most insightful explanations we’ve read of the cultural, as well as linguistic, differences, between Maori and  Pakeha thought-patterns in the naming of government agencies.  And how we name organisations defines our hopes and aspirations for them, we think.

Kennedy gives many examples, like these three, with translations:

Pike River Recovery Agency: Te Kāhui Whakamanarua Tekau (“the group that gives prestige to the 29”)

The Ministry of Education: Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga (“the ridgepole of knowledge”)

Department of Conservation: Te Papa Atawhai (“caring for the treasure box”)


One sentence near the end of Kennedy Warne’s article is a call to shape new ways of thinking and doing:

“The time has come to replace the nouns of resources with the verbs of relationships…”    

Let’s do it!


  1. It is great to see the resurgence of indigenous languages isn’t it. Australia is years behind NZ in this regard but there has been some progress recently, especially in trying to save some of the many languages in danger of dying out here.
    It has struck me over the last couple of years while travelling in more remote areas, that a few indigenous languages are alive and well and in fact it is very obvious that English is a second language to many older people. Unfortunately this, a lack of interpreters and lack of cultural awareness, makes it very difficult and disadvantageous when attempting to negotiate with Government and the Justice system etc. So sad.

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