Story: Ngā rōpū tautohetohe – Māori protest movements

Page 5. Cultural rights

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Māori language

In 1972 a Māori language petition was presented at Parliament. Organised by Ngā Tamatoa and Te Reo Māori Society, it requested that te reo Māori be taught in schools. It was signed by over 30,000 people and the day on which it was presented, 14 September, became Māori Language Day. Later a Treaty of Waitangi claim over the Māori language was made to the Waitangi Tribunal, which reported on it in 1986.

Ken Mair of Whanganui led a protest after Television New Zealand announced in 1995 that the Māori-language news programme Te karere was being suspended. Protesters entered TV One’s newsroom and disrupted the six o’clock news broadcast. In 2022, Te karere celebrated 40 years on air.

He Taua

On 1 May 1979, a Māori students’ group known as He Taua confronted engineering students at the University of Auckland who were preparing to perform a mock haka. The engineering students’ haka had a long tradition and involved participants wearing grass skirts, painting swear words and sexual organs on their bodies and mocking Māori. Students had been trying to have the haka stopped for some time through official channels, to no effect. Following the confrontation members of He Taua were charged with various offences, including riot. Surprisingly to many, they received support from some moderate Māori. The mock haka was not performed again.

Māori flag protest

In 1989 a competition for a Māori flag was run by protest group Te Kawariki. The flag that was chosen became known as the tino rangatiratanga flag. In the 2000s a protest group, Te Ata Tino Toa, attempted to have the flag flown on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. After a series of protests the flag was chosen as a national Māori flag, and it was flown on the harbour bridge on official occasions from 2010.

How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Ngā rōpū tautohetohe – Māori protest movements - Cultural rights', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 June 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 11 Jan 2023