Te Tai – Treaty Settlement Stories

Story: Te Mana o te Reo Māori

Teacher support material: Language under threat

Teacher support material

Chapter 5: 1945–1978 Language under threat

The fifth chapter of Te Mana o te Reo Māori gives students an overview of the period 1945–1978, a time that saw a rapid decline in the use of te reo Māori across the country.

Teacher support material: Language under threat

Later in the period, political movements and efforts to fight for te reo Māori increased including the establishment of Ngā Tamatoa and Te Reo Māori Society, and the delivery of a petition to Parliament to promote te reo Māori.

Te Mana o te Reo Māori – Chapter 5

On this page, you’ll find materials to support your students as they learn about te reo Māori after World War II, including key focus questions, suggested activities, and language support.


Introducing this chapter

Chapter 5 poster image

Nga Tamatoa sitting on Parliments steps

Members of Ngā Tamatoa on Parliament’s steps in late 1972.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Dominion Post Collection (PAColl-7327); EP/1972/5388/11a

The Chapter 5 poster from the picture pack He Pūkei Whakaahua o Te Mana o te Reo Māori features a black and white photograph of Ngā Tamatoa. Included in this group are well-known grandfather, father, artist and Tūhoe, Waikato, Te Arawa activist, Tame Iti, and director, writer and actor, Rawiri Paratene of Ngāpuhi. This image features in Chapter 5 of the digital story. The poster provides some key questions and information to introduce your students to this chapter. You can use this poster to facilitate discussions with your students about the importance of protest as a means of raising social awareness, encouraging social action, and bringing about social change.

Additional resource components

There is further content available for students to explore this topic:

Key themes

This resource tells the history of the decline and revitalisation of te reo Māori with a focus on five themes from Te Takanga o te Wā.

Te Takanga o te Wā Māori History Guidelines Year 1–8 (Te Kete Ipurangi)

Here are some key questions that relate to each of these themes. These questions are intentionally broad so that students can explore them in multiple ways.

  • Whakapapa

    Tūpuna – Connections – Belonging – Identity – Culture – Community – Tikanga – Mana Whenua
  • Where do I fit in?
  • Do any of my whānau speak Māori?
  • Tūrangawaewae

    Belonging – Identity – Culture – Community – Place – Continuity
  • Did any of my family or Māori people in my community move away from their tūrangawaewae and their marae during the period of Māori urbanisation?
  • What impact did that have on their language?
  • Mana Motuhake

    Belonging – Identity – Mana – Controversy – Conflict – Consequences – Tino Rangatiratanga
  • Did any of my whānau or people that I know take part in the protest actions to promote te reo Māori in the 1970s?
  • Kaitiakitanga

    Time – Context – Perspective – Knowledge – Tikanga – Guardianship
  • What actions have I participated in to support and protect te reo Māori?
  • What actions am I prepared to participate in to support te reo Māori?
  • Whanaungatanga

    Whānau – Hapū – Iwi – Whakapapa – Tūpuna – Connections – Community – Manaakitanga – Kotahitanga – Unity
  • How can I encourage and support my whānau/kura/community to promote te reo Māori?

Each of these themes provides a way for learners to connect with the history of te reo Māori. Keep an eye out for these icons to see how activities and content in these resources link to each of these themes.

Activities and learning experiences

Here are some suggested activities for your students.

Activity 1: He pānui porotehe – A protest banner

Themes: Mana MotuhakeKaitiakitanga

Imagine it is 1972. Design a protest banner or poster. It could be related to the petition to have te reo Māori taught in schools, or it could be one to just promote te reo Māori. The banner could represent a group or organisation (e.g. Ngā Tamatoa, the Te Reo Māori Society) or a personal view. It could feature text, images, a whakataukī or symbolism to convey your message. Once you’ve designed your poster, consider and report on:

  • the purpose of the banner or poster
  • the message you want to communicate
  • the audience that your banner or poster is aimed at
  • how you intend your poster or banner to be used.

You should also report on how these considerations impacted your decisions around:

  • font style for the text
  • size and placement of the text
  • key words or images used to convey your message effectively
  • the relationship between text and any images, symbols or designs that appear on the banner or poster
  • the colours chosen and how these align with the message or purpose of the banner or poster
  • effective use of a limited amount of space to get your message across.

You can choose how you will present this information. It could be presented orally, in written form as a design brief, as a digital story, or using some other form of digital media.

Activity 2: He mahi auaha – A creative work

Theme: Mana Motuhake

Create a piece of artwork to convey your understanding of the decline of te reo Māori during the 1950s–70s. The artwork could provide a visual representation of:

  • urbanisation – the migration of Māori away from their tūrangawaewae and marae to urban areas
  • the decline of te reo Māori
  • how the decline of Māori language impacted Māori people
  • how the country responded to the decline of te reo Māori.

Consider carefully how you wish to report on the considerations that influenced your decisionmaking process to produce your creative work. Present your artwork to the class and share your inspiration for your creation.

Activity 3: He kōrerorero – Critical dialogue

Theme: Whanaungatanga

With a friend, use the THINK-PAIR-SHARE strategy to reflect on the content in Chapter 5.


Take a few moments to consider the following questions:

  • Is there anything that surprised you about the protests that occurred to promote te reo Māori during the 1970s?
  • Do you think the protest actions that took place were effective?
  • Were there other actions that could have been taken to promote te reo Māori that might have been more effective than signing a petition?
  • Do you feel confident that you know where you can go to find reliable sources of information about this topic?

Turn to the person next to you and talk about your responses to the questions above. You should compare your mental or written notes and identify the answers you think are most convincing, compelling or unique.


After you have talked with your classmate for a few moments, join up with other pairs to share your thinking with the rest of the class.

Language support





Other resources

Downloads for this chapter