Te Tai – Treaty Settlement Stories

Story: Te Mana o te Reo Māori


Between the mid-1970s and the 1990s, there were major changes in how the government treated the Māori language, and in how te reo Māori was seen by New Zealanders.

Some of the key people and organisations who made these changes happen are featured here. There have been hundreds more.


Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru

The Māori language Treaty claim leader.

Naida Glavish

Dame Naida Glavish

The ‘kia ora lady’.

Kāterina Mataira

Dame Kāterina Mataira

A creative artist, writer and teacher; a founder of Te Ataarangi.

Covers of two books by Ray Harlow.

Emeritus Professor Ray Harlow

An academic who treasures te reo Māori.

Cathy Dewes.

Dr Cathy Dewes

A woman with a vision and the determination to put it into practice.

James Henare.

Sir James Henare

A rangatira whose leadership and words continue to inspire.

Matiu Rata.

Matiu Rata

A practical politician who established the Waitangi Tribunal and laid the foundations for the revitalisation of te reo Māori.

Wharehuia Milroy.

Dr Wharehuia Milroy

A leader in the revitalisation of te reo Māori, and an upholder of Māori language standards.

Mīria Simpson.

Mīria Simpson

An expert in two languages who was determined to uphold the highest standards in both.

Professor Whatarangi Winiata

Professor Whatarangi Winiata

A scholar who planned and oversaw the revitalisation of te reo Māori in his iwi and his community.

Richard Benton standing next to a woman.

Dr Richard Benton

A Pākehā scholar and researcher who sounded the alarm in the 1970s about the rapid loss of the Māori language even in places where it had once been strong.

Piripi Walker in radio studio.

Piripi Walker

A determined organiser and activist who coordinated the WAI11 claim and later court cases, and led the establishment of the first Māori-language radio station.

 Tīmoti Kāretu.

Sir Tīmoti Kāretu

A teacher, leader, exponent of the spoken and performance arts, and language expert who was determined that the Māori language would be maintained in its full depth and quality.

Iritana Tāwhiwhirangi

Dr Iritana Tāwhiwhirangi

A staunch advocate for te reo Māori over many decades; a founder of the kōhanga reo movement.

Ngoi Pēwhairangi.

Ngoi Pēwhairangi

An exponent of Māori performing arts and a composer who left us the ‘anthem of the Māori language’, the inspirational waiata ‘Whakarongo’, heard wherever Māori language is used or learned.


Group crowded into radio station.

Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo

The organisation that took the WAI11 Māori language claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Four members of NZ Maori Council in Parliament.

New Zealand Māori Council

The New Zealand Māori Council was intended to be the peak national body for Māori organisations.

Group of young Māori on steps of Parliament.

Ngā Tamatoa and Te Reo Māori Society

The activist group Ngā Tamatoa (The Young Warriors) was formed in 1970. It brought a new and radical edge to Māori protest in its calls for the Treaty of Waitangi to be ratified.

Edward Durie and Paul Temm reading to children at kohanga reo.

Parliament and the Waitangi Tribunal

Parliament has been the focus of much of the effort to revitalise the Māori language. To obtain official status and associated recognition for te reo, legislation was needed.

NZCER logo.

New Zealand Council for Educational Research

The NZCER was set up in 1934 and since 1945 has operated under an Act of Parliament. It does educational research and provides independent information, advice, and assistance.

New Zealand Coat of Arms.

Government Departments involved in WAI11

Ministry of Justice, State Services Commission, Ministry of Education and Te Puni Kōkiri.

Group of six in Parliament's Māori Affairs Committee Room.

Te Reo Māori agencies

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Mātāwai.

New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation logo.

Broadcasting organisations

Until the 1980s the Crown owned virtually all broadcasting (radio and television) assets in New Zealand.