Te Tai – Treaty Settlement Stories

Story: Te Mana o te Reo Māori

Ngā Tamatoa and Te Reo Maori Society

The activist group Ngā Tamatoa (The Young Warriors) was formed in 1970.
Group of young Māori on the steps of Parliament.
Members of Ngā Tamatoa on Parliament steps, 11 November 1972. Back row (left to right): Toro Waaka, John Ohia, Paul Kotara, and Tame Iti. Front row (left to right): Orewa Barrett-Ohia, Rawiri Paratene, and Tiata Witehira.
Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (PAColl-7327); Reference: EP/1972/5388/11a

It brought a new and radical edge to Māori protest in its calls for the Treaty of Waitangi to be ratified. Its tactics included nationwide petitions to have the Māori language taught in schools, and submissions on government policy.

Ngā Tamatoa was based in Auckland. In Wellington another community-based organisation, the Te Reo Māori Society, was combating the threat to te reo Māori posed by the declining number of native speakers.

Along with Te Huinga Rangatahi (the New Zealand Māori Students’ Association), these organisations collected tens of thousands of signatures for the Māori language petition which was presented to Parliament on 14 September 1972. This petition signalled the beginning of the modern period of Māori language revitalisation.

Several former members of Ngā Tamatoa – including Hone Harawira, Tame Iti and Larry Parr – are interviewed by Paratene, who also presents the documentary.
NZ On Screen: Ngā Tamatoa: 40 Years On