Te Tai – Treaty Settlement Stories

Story: Te Mana o te Reo Māori

Te mana o te reo Māori timeline

A chronological listing of events of importance to the history of the Māori language from 1200 to the present day.

Many thanks to Colin Feslier for planting the seed for the timeline and for collating, and writing much of the content.


Permanent settlement of New Zealand is established by around 1300. The language these Pacific ancestors of Māori spoke on arrival would probably be largely mutually intelligible with the Māori language of today. The New Zealand language immediately begins to diverge from its ancestor language. As plants, fish, places and resources like stone, fibre plants and new techniques are named, a distinct dialect begins to emerge. New living arrangements and practices develop, changing the meaning of words. In Tahiti a ‘marae’ is a raised structure used for religious purposes. In time, Māori becomes a language in its own right. It does so here and is therefore truly indigenous.


James Cook notes the similarity of languages and attempts the first known written Māori; noting ‘Te Ika a Maui’ as ‘Aeheino mouwe’ (the North Island) and ‘Tovy-poenammu; for ‘te Wai Pounamu’ (the South Island); Cook (like Tasman before him) begins the process of renaming places with European names. However, te reo Māori place names prove resistant; in the 21st century there are still more than 22,000 place names in the Māori language.


Mihi-ki-te-kapua, called ‘the greatest composer of the Tuhoe and Mataatua peoples’ by Pou Temara, is born in the last years of the 18th century. Her hapū were Ngāi Te Riu and Ngāti Ruapani.


Te Rangitopeora is born in Kāwhia, early in the 19th century. Her mother is Waitohi of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa, and her father is Te Rā-ka-herea of Ngāti Toarangatira. She will become a prolific and famous composer.


Māori come into contact with more and more Europeans; Māori is the overwhelmingly dominant language of New Zealand. It is used extensively between Māori and Pākehā.

Māori vocabulary is enriched by new words adopted from English (and French): mīere (honey), parāoa (bread/flour), Many chiefs travel to Sydney, which they name Pōhakenei (Port Jackson). The name is used to this day, more commonly as Poihākena. There they meet Samuel Marsden of the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS). The CMS decides to set up in New Zealand – a decision that will strongly influence history, and the Māori language.

At the first Christmas service, Ruatara interprets Samuel Marsden’s sermon in English. He preached from Luke chapter two verse 10, ‘He kaikauwhau tenei ahau ki a koutou mo te hari nui (Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy)’.


Thomas Kendall's A korao no New Zealand is the first book published about the Māori language. ‘A korao’ is thought to be an attempt to transcribe ‘He kōrero’. ‘Ako rau’ or ‘learning leaves’ or ‘much learning’ is another possibility.

Inside front pages of two early books
The first book on te reo Māori A korao [kōrero] no New Zealand was written by Thomas Kendall in 1815. In 1820 Kendall with the help of rangatira Hongi Hika and Waikato, and professor Samuel Lee, completed A grammar and vocabulary of the language of New Zealand. Alexander Turnbull Library; Reference: B-K-1049-COVER (left); B-K-2-TITLE (right)

Approximate year of birth of Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikāheke, the author of more than 800 pages of manuscript in Māori, which encompass features of Māori language, genealogies, legends, traditions, contemporary history, political commentary, customs, proverbs, songs, literary commentary, and autobiographical material. The manuscripts are the source of most of the prose material in the appendices to Sir George Grey’s Ko nga moteatea, me nga hakirara o nga maori (Poems, traditions, and chaunts of the Maories) (1853), and much of the material for his Ko nga mahinga a nga tupuna Maori (The deeds of the Māori ancestors) (1854), and hence of its translation, Polynesian mythology (1855). Te Rangikāheke’s writings become the major part of the earliest accounts of Māori history and culture.


First mission school opens in the Bay of Islands. Missionaries teach in te reo Māori.


A grammar and vocabulary of the language of New Zealand is published, compiled by Thomas Kendall. This lays the orthographic foundations of written Māori, which are extended by the linguist Samuel Lee of Cambridge University, who works with the chiefs Hongi Hika and Waikato.


First official document in the Māori language: a declaration, later disallowed by the Governor of New South Wales, purporting to extend British law to New Zealand and elsewhere. ‘God save the King!’ is translated as ‘Má te atua e wāka óra te kingi’ Note the attempt, in this first official use of the Māori language, to mark long vowels.


With the help of brothers Henry and William Williams, the first scriptures in Māori are published in Sydney in 1827. This little book includes passages from Genesis, Exodus, Matthew and John.


William Colenso arrives at Paihia with a large and very heavy Stanhope printing press. From 1836 until late 1837, the press is fully engaged printing 5,000 copies of the first New Testament in Māori.


The first book published in New Zealand is printed at Paihia: a 16-page edition of Ephesians and Philippians in Māori.


The first New Zealand Company settlers arrive – the first wave of a tide of immigrants that will eventually swamp the Māori language.


Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) is signed. Māori is the predominant language of New Zealand. The Treaty introduces words like ‘kāwanatanga’ and ‘rangatiratanga’ which will become the source of much debate in the 20th century.


The first Māori language newspaper, Ko te Karere o Nui Tireni, is published by the government.


Johann Karl Dieffenbach’s Travels in New Zealand (London, 1843) is published. It includes an essay on the Māori language, with examples, translations, grammar and a dictionary.


St Stephen’s School, an Anglican Māori boarding school, is founded in Auckland. It will move to Bombay, near Pukekohe, in 1931 and close in 2000.

Wesley College, a Methodist Māori boarding school, is founded in Auckland. It will move to Three Kings, and then to Paerata in 1922.

The Mission Press at Paihia issues A dictionary of the New Zealand language, and a Concise grammar; to which are added a Selection of colloquial sentences. By William Williams, B.A., Archdeacon of Waiapu. Paihia: Printed at the Press of the C.M. Society. 185 pages.


Governor George Grey introduces the Education Ordinance (an assimilation policy).


The Maori Messenger: Te Karere Maori is published by the government between 1849 and 1854. It is a revival of Te Karere o Nui Tireni and contains similar material. The paper presents issues facing the government and Māori people, essentially from the government viewpoint.

Front page of newspaper The Maori Messenger
The Maori Messenger – Te Karere Maori was a bilingual newspaper in both Māori and English. Paperspast; The Maori Messenger: Te Karere Maori, 14 Hurai (July), 1860, p.1


Pākehā population surpasses Māori population. Māori becomes a minority language in New Zealand.


Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe is translated into Māori and published.

The second edition of Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is published with many new words and terms and an English–Māori vocabulary.


Sir George Grey’s Ko nga moteatea, me nga hakirara o nga maori (Poems, traditions, and chaunts of the Maories) is published.


Sir George Grey’s Ko nga mahinga a nga tupuna Maori (The deeds of the Maori ancestors) is published.

The Anglican Māori boarding school Te Aute College is founded in Hawke’s Bay.


The Maori Messenger: Te Karere Maori is reinstated in a new format nine months later (1855–1861). Its first editor is Hare Reweti (Charles Davis), who came to Hokianga from New South Wales in the 1830s.


The Anglican Māori boarding school Waerenga-a-Hika College is founded in Poverty Bay.

Elsdon Best is born at Tawa, near Wellington. He is to become a significant scholar of things Māori and a notable collector of traditions and language. He dies in 1931, having published a significant series of books and articles, many of which make extensive use of the Māori language. He is a president of the Polynesian Society.


Te Karere o Poneke (Port Nicholson Messenger) is published until 1858. It is likely that this Te Karere is the successor to Ko Te Ao Marama, the Wellington Independent's earlier Māori-language newspaper, which appears to have ceased publication in 1849.

Te Waka o Te Iwi is edited by Hare Reweti (Charles Davis), a Church Missionary Society missionary and fluent Māori speaker. Wiremu Tamihana of Ngāti Haua (Waikato) assists him. Tamihana, who is instrumental in establishing Pōtatau Te Wherowhero as the first Māori King, appears to have gathered local Waikato support for the newspaper.


The first official census to collect data about Māori counts 56,049 Māori people, 48.5% of the total population. Māori are now a minority.

The Native Districts Regulation Act 1858 and the Native Circuit Courts Act 1858 are the first Acts of the government printed in Māori.


Te haeata (The Dawn, 1859–1862) is a religious newspaper edited by Wesleyan missionary Te Patara (Reverend Thomas Buddle) at Onehunga.


The government newspaper originally called Te Karere Māori is rebranded yet again, this time as Te manuhiri Tuarangi and Maori intelligencer (Visitor from afar, March–November). A further rebranding as Te Karere Maori, or, Maori messenger takes the paper through to its end in 1863.

Ko Aotearoa or The Maori recorder is published in Auckland until 1862 (only two issues have been seen), edited by Charles Davis. He notes that his greetings have formerly been sent through other channels (Te Waka o Te Iwi and Te Whetu o Te Tau): ‘but now I communicate directly with you through your own Printing Press “Aotearoa”’. The imprint on the title page reads, ‘He mea ta i te Perehi o ngā Iwi Māori’ (Printed by the Press of the Māori People).


A school inspector reports to the House of Representatives that 'a refined education or high mental culture' would be inappropriate for Māori because ‘they are better calculated by nature to get their living by manual than by mental labour’.

Patara Te Tuhi, a cousin of King Tāwhiao, edits the first Māori-language newspaper produced entirely by Māori, Hokioi o Niu-Tireni, e rere atu-na (The War-Bird of New Zealand in flight to you, 1862–1863). He writes pro-King Movement articles and is assisted with the press by his younger brother, Honana Maioha.


Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri is published in Napier. It covers controversial issues from the side of the government and Māori who support it.

Te pihoihoi mokemoke i runga i te tuanui (A sparrow alone on the house top, 1863) is edited and published by John Gorst Civil Commissioner for Waikato, on behalf of the government. It is produced by the government to counter the Māori King's newspaper, Te Hokioi, named for an extinct predator, the giant Haast’s Eagle. The newspaper's title alludes to Psalm 102, verse 7: ‘I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top’. Five issues are published, the last on 23 March 1863. Governor Grey edits the first issue.


Parliament’s revised standing orders stipulate that Māori petitions will be translated prior to being presented, and that the Governor’s speeches to the House of Representatives and bills ‘specially affecting’ Māori will be translated and printed in Māori.


Four Māori electorates are established by the Māori Representation Act 1867.

The Native Schools Act is passed, setting up a system in which Māori provide the land for schools and the government provides the buildings and teachers. (Teaching will be in English ‘as far as practicable’, but this is not enforced rigorously until around 1900.) Schools for Māori focus more on manual instruction than academic subjects.

The Catholic boarding school St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ School is founded in Napier.


First publication of Te Paipera Tapu (the full Māori Bible).

It is resolved that a ‘simple text-book’ of parliamentary practice will be published in Māori, papers tabled in the House will be translated, and relevant sessional papers will also be translated and printed in Māori.

Tāreha Te Moananui (Ngāti Kahungunu), the first MP for Eastern Māori, delivers the first speech in te reo Māori in Parliament. His words were translated.

A member of the Legislative Council, Walter Mantell, complains that bills aren’t being translated into Māori as required by standing orders. He argues that translating documents will promote peace. Despite Mantell’s complaint, bills are not usually translated until 1879.


The first bill (the Native Councils Bill) is translated and printed in Māori. This bill does not become law.


Te wananga (The forum, 1874–1878) is edited by John White, former secretary to Governor Grey and Native Land Court interpreter. The oral traditions he collected during the 1840s and 1850s will later be published as The ancient history of the Māori. The intention of the newspaper is expressed in the first issue: ‘This is a Press for the whole Island, for Māori people, it has been entitled Te Wananga for all the present day tribes … [I]n the manner of the Press it will bring us to a consensus of opinion, hence its title Te Wananga, because it is an asset for us all.’

The Hawke’s Bay Times’ editor, R. Coupland Harding, gives notable coverage to Māori affairs, in te reo Māori during 1874. ‘Nga Hua o te Mohiotanga ma nga Tangata Māori’ (The Fruits of Knowledge for Māori) appears on page 3 each Tuesday and Friday for some months.


The Anglican boarding school Hukarere Māori Girls’ School is founded in Napier.


Pioneer composer Paraire Tomoana of Ngāti Whatuiāpiti and Ngāti Kahungunu is born in about this year. He will compose in the new ‘action song’ style, which moves away from the small note ranges of traditional waiata and uses harmonised tunes, often adapted from European melodies. During the First World War he uses his musical abilities to raise funds for soldiers and their families. Tomoana’s compositions include the famous love song ‘Pōkarekare ana’, ‘Hoea rā te waka nei’, and ‘E pari rā’, a waiata maumahara (song of remembrance) for soldiers lost in the First World War.


The Department of Education is established. In 1879, 57 native schools will be transferred to this Department.


Sir George Grey organises the translation of Thomas Bracken’s hymn ‘God defend New Zealand’ into Māori.


Catholic nun and missionary Suzanne Aubert publishes a Māori-language prayer book and catechism, Ko te ako me te karakia o te hahi katorika romana (1879). Her New and complete manual of Māori conversation (1885) includes general rules of grammar and an extensive vocabulary.

The Legislative Council orders that all bills translated into Māori be bound and put in the Parliamentary Library, as a resource for Māori members. From this point on, more bills are translated and deposited.


The Inspector of Schools releases a Native School Code.

Te Aute College produces young men who will become the first Māori graduates in the 1880s.

From the 1880s there are three interpreters in Parliament: two in the House of Representatives and one in the Legislative Council.

Parliament’s standing orders are printed in Māori, under the title Ture whakahaere korero me nga tikanga mahi a Te Whare i Pootitia, mo nga mahi a Te Katoa.


From 1881 to 1906 a Māori-language translation of the New Zealand Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) is produced. This contains Māori and Pākehā members’ speeches on legislation considered particularly relevant to Māori.

Te Matariki is published. The newspaper is concerned with land issues in the Gisborne district. The editor advocates retaining land: ‘It will be like a book which you publish, and in that way I will know to report to you the intentions of the destroyers of your lands.’ Te Matariki attacks the land dealings of William Lee Rees and Wi Pere.


The newspaper Takitimu is edited by Charles Webb, son of H. E. Webb, a former land purchase officer at Napier and co-founder of the Poverty Bay Standard in 1872. It aims to bring Māori people news of what is going on around the world on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, in the way European newspapers keep Pākehā up to date: 'Now the Māori newspapers in this colony are only two: Te Korimako and its younger brother Takitimu'.


Suzanne Aubert publishes her New and Complete Manual of Maori Conversation, which includes general rules of grammar and an extensive vocabulary. It will be republished in a revised form in 1926 by Apirana Ngata as the Complete manual of Maori grammar and conversation with vocabulary.


The identity of the editor of the newspaper Te Hoa Maori is unknown, but it appears to be published by the Plymouth Brethren. This paper uses te reo Māori only for the first six issues, and then Māori and English until it ceases publication, probably in 1897.


The last issue of Te Korimako is published in Auckland on 1 May after eight years in print. Eighteen months later it is revived in Ōpōtiki as Te Korimako Hou (1890), edited by Reverend George Maunsell. The last issue is probably published on 10 September 1890.


An annual series of relevant Acts is printed in Māori until 1910.


A new performance form begins to emerge in Māori communities. Led by Apirana Ngata of Ngāti Porou and later Te Puea Hērangi of Waikato, the Māori concert party is a precursor of modern-day kapa haka. Troupes of Māori singers, dancers and other performers travel to Māori villages to maintain and foster tribal identity and cohesion, and sometimes to raise funds for community projects.

The MaoriPolynesian comparative dictionary by Edward Tregear is published. While some of Tregear’s other works (such as The Aryan Maori) are eccentric, the dictionary is still consulted today.


The fourth edition of Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is published, with additional words.

The Journal of the Polynesian Society is published for the first time; it continues to this day.


Popular Māori songs: as written by the Maoris of Waikato, February, 1864, is published. The author, John Henry Field, had guarded Māori imprisoned on hulks (disused ships) after the battle of Rangiriri, and says he learned the waiata from them.


Primary education becomes compulsory for Māori children.


The Māori population, as recorded by the official census, reaches its lowest point. A Māori population of 42,113 people is recorded, 5.7% of a total population of 743,214.


Another edition of Te Paipera Tapu is published.


The Anglican Māori girls’ boarding school, Queen Victoria School, is founded in Auckland.

The Māori population has increased to 45,549, 5.6% of a total population of 815,862.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament rules that MPs cannot have their speaking time extended to allow for interpretation, effectively cutting their speaking time in half.


The Anglican Māori boarding school Hikurangi College is founded at Clareville, Wairarapa.


The Presbyterian boarding school Turakina Māori Girls’ College is founded at Marton.


The Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 is intended to stop people using traditional Māori healing practices which have a supernatural or (non-Christian) spiritual element.

The Reverend Henry James Fletcher (1868–1933) publishes Hinemoa: with notes and vocabulary, a brief te reo version of the famous story. He wants to encourage people to learn a little of the Māori language.


The Anglican boarding school Otaki Māori College is founded.


There is a reduction to one interpreter in Parliament.

The Anglican boarding school Te Waipounamu Māori Girls’ College is founded in Christchurch.


Tuini Ngāwai of Ngāti Porou is born in Tokomaru Bay. She will compose her first song (now lost) aged 14, and from 1931 writes more than 200 songs. Her first surviving song, ‘He nawe kei roto’ (Stirred within), impresses Apirana Ngata so much that he asks her to perform it at the opening of the meeting house Te Hono-ki-Rarotonga in Tokomaru Bay in 1934. In 1939 Ngāwai moves to Auckland and begins composing for a choir which makes many radio broadcasts. During the Second World War she returns to Tokomaru Bay and establishes Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū, a performing group that helps recruiting men for 28 (Māori) Battalion. During the war Ngāwai composes her best-known songs, including the famous ‘Arohaina mai e te Kīngi nui’ (Care for us, great King).


90% of Māori school children are native Māori speakers.

The Speaker of the House, Frederic W. Lang, rules that Māori members of Parliament should speak in English if they are able to do so.


The Great War begins. More than 2,000 Māori men go overseas to fight. About 350 die as a result of this service, virtually all native Māori speakers.


The Department of Education has an assimilation policy for Māori and low expectations of Māori students. Its annual report includes a statement from the Inspector of Native Schools: ‘So far as the Department is concerned, there is no encouragement given to [Māori] boys who wish to enter the learned professions. The aim is to turn, if possible, their attention to the branches of industry for which the Māori seems best suited.’

The Māori–English portion of Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is reprinted.


The fifth edition of Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is published. Herbert W. Williams comments: ‘Sir Francis Bell, when Minister of Internal Affairs, proposed that I should be relieved of my ordinary duties for twelve months in order to devote myself entirely to the Dictionary. Under this arrangement a start was made with the printing early in 1915, and the whole of the copy was in the printer's hands in January 1916.’


Apirana Ngata begins lecturing Māori about the need to promote Māori language use in homes and communities, while also promoting English language education for Māori in schools.

By the 1920s Māori grammar is taught only in a few private schools.

The provision of interpreters in Parliament lapses.


Ngoi Pēwhairangi, the niece of composer Tuini Ngāwai, is born. Pēwhairangi’s songs will include ‘Kia kaha ngā iwi’, ‘Ka noho au’ and ‘Whakarongo’. Much of her work is composed for specific events, such as the 1983 visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales, when she organises the official welcome. Her best-known songs are ‘E ipo’, recorded by Prince Tui Teka in 1981, and ‘Poi e’, written with Dalvanius Prime, a hit for the Pātea Māori Club in 1982. Pēwhairangi is also an important educator who works unstintingly to promote Māori language and culture.

Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language reprinted.

The Māori population rises to 56,988, 4.5% of a total population of 1,271,667.


Te reo Māori becomes a language unit for the Bachelor of Arts degree in the University of New Zealand (the actual teaching of courses starts at Auckland University College in 1951).


Another edition of Te Paipera Tapu is published.


The national school syllabus becomes the same for both Māori and non-Māori children.

The Catholic Māori boarding school Hato Petera College is founded in Auckland.


An attempt by the New Zealand Federation of Teachers to have te reo introduced into the curriculum is blocked by the Director of Education. In his view, ‘the natural abandonment of the native tongue involves no loss to the Māori’. Education ‘should lead the Māori lad to be a good farmer and the Māori girl to be a good farmer’s wife’.

Māori remains the predominant language in Māori homes and communities. The use of English begins to increase, and some Māori leaders continue to support English-only education.


The Māori Agricultural College (Mormon, established in 1912) and Te Aute suffer major damage in the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. The agricultural college closes permanently.


Fires force Hikurangi College to close.

Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is reprinted.


Māori MPs are permitted to speak briefly in Māori in the House if they provide an immediate interpretation.


The broadcasting of Parliament begins – a world first. The status of English is highlighted.


Tīmoti Kāretu (Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tūhoe) is born. He will become the inaugural head of the Department of Māori at the University of Waikato and later the first Māori Language Commissioner at Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (1987–1999). He is Executive Director of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo, the Institute of Excellence in Māori Language, from 2003, and chairperson of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. Tīmoti Kāretu is knighted in 2017.

Waerenga-a-Hika College closes due to fire.


Second World War starts.The Māori language is used in recruitment. 3600 Māori fight overseas. 650 die, the vast majority native speakers who will not be available as role models when te reo Māori begins its post-war decline.

Old war poster.
A poster from 1941 encouraging Maori to save and fundraise for the Second Word War. Te Papa; Reference: GH015341 Poster, 'Taringa Whakarongo!'


Māori urban migration begins. This will have an impact on the use of the Māori language.


William (Wiremu) Parker of Ngāti Porou is appointed New Zealand’s first Māori news broadcaster. Bulletins keep communities up to date with Māori troops’ progress. Many new military and place-name terms enter the vocabulary.


The Second World War ends

Māori becomes a School Certificate subject.


Māori urban migration intensifies.


The Catholic Māori boarding school Hato Paora College is founded in Feilding.


Hirini Melbourne of Ngāi Tūhoe is born. He will become an influential composer and flourished from 1980 until his death in 2003. Melbourne is first known for the many songs he composes for schools, which are still sung in the 2000s. These include ‘Pūrea nei’ (Cleansing), ‘Whiti te marama’ (The moon shines), and ‘Tihore mai’ (The sky is clear).

Melbourne is also lauded for his leadership – with Richard Nunns – in the revival of the traditional Māori musical instruments known as taonga puoro (sound treasures). Their 1994 CD Te ku te whe is a landmark recording, restoring the sounds of these instruments and introducing a new voice in New Zealand music composition.


Māori urban migration continues. Māori families are ‘pepper-potted’ in predominantly non-Māori suburbs, preventing the reproduction of Māori community and speech patterns. Most Māori families choose to speak English, and Māori children are raised as English speakers.


Auckland University College begins teaching te reo Māori.

Speaker Matthew H. Oram reimposes Speaker Lang’s ruling of 1913. The ruling will be relaxed in the 1960s, with Māori MPs permitted to speak briefly in Māori if they provide an immediate interpretation.

The Māori Women’s Welfare League is founded.


Broken barrier, a film about a romance between a Pākehā man and a Māori woman, is controversial. Intermarriage, as well as representing a positive side of race relations, increases the use of English in Māori homes.


26% of Māori school children can speak Māori.


The sixth edition of Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is published; a major revision. Those involved include Sir Apirana Ngata (before his death in 1950), Chairman; M. R. Jones, Deputy Chairman; J. M. McEwen, Secretary; and Messrs William Cooper, Raniera Kingi, Pei te H. Jones, H. U. Marumaru, Rongowhakaata Halbert, Rangi Royal, Eru Pou, W. T. Ngata, the Rev. Canon Te Anga Kaa, the Rev. Canon P. Temuera, Bruce Biggs, Keepa Ehau, A. Morris Jones, the Very Rev. J. G. Laughton and Morris Jones.


The Hunn Report describes the Māori language as a relic of ancient Māori life, draws attention to the educational disparity between Māori and Pākehā, and rejects assimilation in favour of ‘integration’. Since 1900, the proportion of Māori fluent in te reo has fallen from 95% to 25%.

The Publications Branch of the Education Department begins publishing a Māori language journal for use in schools in which Māori is taught.

New Zealand’s first regular television broadcasts begin in Auckland on 1 June. TV soon reaches most of the country, with programming almost entirely in English for several decades.

Playcentre supporters encourage Māori parents to speak English to prepare their children for primary school.


Television advertising begins, in English only. TV is now available in Wellington and Christchurch.


The New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation begins broadcasting regular news bulletins. Before this, ‘news’ on radio consisted of BBC bulletins and round-ups of government announcements. News bulletins emerge as an overwhelmingly English domain, but some local stations and later the National Programme broadcast Māori language news on a very limited scale. TV is now available in Dunedin.

The Tohunga Suppression Act is repealed.


The Currie Report emphasises the need to counter Māori educational underachievement in a centralised way, and recommends a range of compensatory programmes.

A Te Reo o te Māori series is broadcast on radio (the then National Programme).


Williams’ A dictionary of the New Zealand language is out of print again. The Department of Education’s Committee on the Teaching of the Māori Language begins work on a new edition, which becomes a ‘complete revision’, with 499 corrections or amendments. The Chair of the Advisory Committee, G. A. Kelly comments: ‘Unfortunately, during the transfer of the Government Printing Office to new premises, printing blocks of the sixth edition, which had been in storage for some years, were jolted and shaken. As a result the Government Printer judged it necessary to rely on the subcommittee to check every word because he had no proof reader of Māori on his staff’.

The TV programme Songs of their forefathers features waiata.

The Korimako speech competition to encourage English fluency in Māori secondary school students begins. In later years, te reo Māori and junior divisions are added, named to honour: Pei Te Hurinui Jones, a distinguished Waikato scholar; Te Rāwhiti Ihaka, skilled orator and teacher at St Stephen’s School; and Sir Turi Carroll, Ngāti Kahungunu leader. In 1987, the competition is renamed Ngā Whakataetae mō Ngā Manu Kōrero o Ngā Kura Tuarua; it is generally known as Ngā Manu Kōrero.


Reed publishes Bruce Biggs’ Let's learn Maori: a guide to the study of the Maori language.


Ngā Tamatoa and the Te Reo Māori Society lobby for the introduction of te reo in schools.

The 7th edition of Williams’ Dictionary of the New Zealand language is completed (see 1965 for commencement of revision).

Pupuri rā, a music-and-dance series, screens on TV.


The Report of the National Advisory Committee on Māori Education advances the concept of bicultural education.

Dictionary of the Maori language (7th ed.) is published.

The Māori population is 289,887, 10.1% of the total population, 2,862,630.


Hana Jackson of Ngā Tamatoa and Lee Smith of Te Reo Māori Society present a 30,000-signature Māori Language petition to Parliament calling for te reo and tikanga Māori to be promoted in schools.

David Broughton (later Rawiri Paratene), co-ordinator of the Māori Students Federation, discusses the importance of the language and the petition and Hana Te Hemara Jackson of Ngā Tamatoa presents the petition to MPs including Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan and Matiu Rata. TVNZ Television New Zealand

Te Matatini (‘the many faces’) is incorporated to foster, develop and protect excellence in Māori performing arts. Waihīrere wins the first Matatini kapa haka competition, held in the Rotorua area.


Richard Benton and his New Zealand Council of Educational Research (NZCER) team begin interviewing 6,470 Māori families throughout the North Island. A total of 6,916 household heads take part in the survey, supplying extensive information about their knowledge of the language, their use of it in a variety of situations, and their attitudes and experiences related to it. These interviews result in the now famous NZCER Sociolinguistic Survey of Māori Language Use. Te reo Māori is in rapid decline and in danger of disappearing. It is a clear sign that drastic measures must be taken to revive te reo Māori usage and keep it alive for future generations.

All seven Teachers’ Colleges have courses in Māori Studies.


The third Labour government establishes teacher-training schemes for native Māori speakers.

An independent TV production of Uenuku screens entirely in Māori.

The Reverend Kingi Ihaka, writing in the Auckland Star newspaper, calls for more regular Māori programming on television.

The English-language TV documentary series Tangata whenua, directed by Barry Barclay and presented by Michael King, screens.


The first Māori Language Week is held.

The Treaty of Waitangi Act establishes the Waitangi Tribunal to investigate contemporary claims of violations of the Treaty.

Te Roopu Manutaki wins the third Matatini kapa haka competition held in the Whangārei area.

A second TV channel (TV2) starts broadcasting.

In September–October, a Land March to Parliament is led by Whina Cooper.

Less than 5% of Māori school children can speak Māori.

Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa initiate Whakatupuranga Rua Mano, a tribal development exercise which emphasises Māori language development.

During the 1970s, in-service training courses in Māoritanga for teachers and teacher-training schemes for native speakers of Māori are introduced. Positions for resource teachers of Māori are established to provide specialist advice to primary schools on te reo and tikanga Māori (Māori language and customs). Māori advisers for secondary schools are also introduced.


The New Zealand Māori Council, chaired by Graham Latimer, makes submissions on a Broadcasting Bill, calling for a weekly TV programme covering Māori and Polynesian affairs, a series of simple, five-minute education programmes aimed at Māori, and a Māori radio station.


Rūātoki School becomes the first bilingual school in New Zealand.

A Te Reo Māori Society petition calls for the establishment of a Māori television production unit within the NZBC. The petition calls for a recognisable Māori presence on television, and in particular a Māori team within Television New Zealand (TVNZ) to initiate and create Māori programmes, deliver a prime-time news bulletin in te reo, advise on Māoritanga, and add a Māori dimension to regular viewing.


Te Ataarangi movement is established in an attempt to restore knowledge of the Māori language knowledge among Māori adults.

Te Ringa Mangu Dun Mihaka is refused the right to use the Māori language in court. The case goes to the Court of Appeal, which also rules against Mihaka. This case will form part of the Waitangi Tribunal hearing on the Māori language in 1985.

The NZCER Sociolinguistic Survey of Māori Language Use is released.

TV1 runs programme summaries and continuity announcements in Māori with English subtitles for Māori Language Week.


During Māori Language Week, a march is held demanding that te reo Māori have equal status with English.

The TV series Koha (in English) begins. It runs until 1985.

In the 1980s TV shows Kōrero mai and Te reo provide language education.


A petition by 2,500 people calls for Māori to be made an official language of New Zealand.

A Hui Whakatauira of Māori leaders proposes the establishment of the first kōhanga reo as a response to impending loss of te reo.

Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki is established by Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

The Springbok rugby tour protests stimulate interest by many Pākehā in New Zealand race relations, including the Māori language.

Bruce Biggs’ Complete English–Maori dictionary is published by Auckland University Press. This dictionary uses computer technology to reverse the Williams listings, finding previously unknown Māori terms for English words. Double vowels rather than macrons are used throughout to mark long vowels. In his introduction, Professor Biggs notes that ‘Scholarly study of Maori is not confined to New Zealand. Research at PhD level has been done at Harvard, at Indiana University, and at the universities of California, Hawai’i, and Auckland'.

Māori reach 12.2% of the population – 385,221 out of 3,143,307.

‘The Bridge’ is the first song sung in te reo to top the New Zealand singles chart. Sung by Deane Waretini, it is written by Waretini's cousin, Te Arawa elder George Tait. The melody is based on the 1965 Italian hit ‘Silenzi’ and the lyrics refer in the construction of the Māngere bridge linking Māori and Pākehā neighbourhoods.


The first kōhanga reo opens at Wainuiomata.

He whakamārama: a full self-help course in Māori is written by John Foster, with a foreword by Sir Peter Tapsell. The publisher is Reed.

Derek Fox gathers and presents Māori language news for two minutes a night just before the 6pm news on TV1 during Māori Language Week.


Radio station Te Reo o Poneke broadcasts in te reo Māori during Māori Language Week. The station is an initiative of Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau and runs on a trial basis for three years before becoming the permanent iwi station, Te Upoko te Ika.

A Māori-language news bulletin, Te karere, begins broadcasting on TV1 on weekday afternoons. Derek Fox and Whai Ngata are the presenters.


National telephone tolls operator Naida Glavish (of Ngāti Whātua) begins greeting callers with ‘Kia ora’. When her supervisor insists that she use only formal English greetings, Glavish refuses and is demoted. The issue sparks widespread public debate. Not everyone is keen to hear ‘kia ora’ used commonly, but many others come out in support of Māori greetings. People call the tolls exchange to speak to ‘the kia ora lady’ and airline pilots begin to use the term to greet passengers. After Prime Minister Robert Muldoon intervenes, Glavish returns to her old job. Eventually, she is promoted to the international tolls exchange, where she greets New Zealand and overseas callers alike with ‘Kia ora’.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa opens as the Waipā Kōkiri Arts Centre in Te Awamutu.

The Reed dictionary of modern Māori (4th ed.), by Peter M. Ryan, is published.

‘Poi E’ reaches number one in the New Zealand charts. The song is written by Dalvanius Prime (Ngāti Rauru, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Pakakohi, Tainui, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāi Tahu) and Ngoi Pewhairangi (Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Koi (Hauraki)) and performed by the Pātea Māori Club. The song re-enters the charts in 2010 after the release of Taika Waititi’s popular film, Boy.


The first kura kaupapa Māori (Māori total immersion school) is established at Hoani Waititi Marae, West Auckland. Kura kaupapa Māori are established to cater for the needs of Māori children emerging from te kōhanga reo (early childhood language nests).

Te Reo Māori claim WAI11 is brought before the Waitangi Tribunal by Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo. Huirangi Waikerepuru, the chairman of Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo, leads the claim, which results in the Māori Language Act 1987. The named claimants are Huirangi Waikerepuru and the rōpū Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo.

Parliament’s standing orders are revised to allow MPs to speak in English or te reo Māori.

The New Zealand Māori Council is unsuccessful in an attempt to obtain the warrant for a third national television channel for Aotearoa Broadcasting Systems.

The makutu on Mrs Jones is broadcast on TV – directed by Larry Parr.


The Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Te Reo Māori Claim (WAI11) is published. The report asserts that te reo is a taonga guaranteed protection under Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi and recommends that legislation be introduced to enable the Māori language to be used in courts of law, and in any dealings with government departments, local authorities and public bodies; and that a supervising body be established by statute to supervise and foster the use of the Māori language.

Whai Ngata sets up TVNZ’s Māori department.

Kaiārahi i te reo – fluent Māori speakers who are not trained teachers – are appointed to support students graduating from kōhanga reo to kura.

Ngā take, a 10-minute current affairs programme, is broadcast on TVNZ.


TVNZ's te reo-only one-hour magazine programme Waka huia begins its long life.

The Māori Language Act is passed in Parliament and te reo Māori is declared an official language.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori is established as the Māori Language Commission (Te Kōmihana Mō Te Reo Māori) with Tīmoti Kāretu as inaugural commissioner, combining management and governance roles. Other commission members are Tā Kingi Matutaera Īhaka, Koro Wetere, Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira, Ānita Moke and Ray Harlow.

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust is established.

Experiments in Māori radio broadcasting lead to the establishment of Te Upoko o te Ika in Wellington and Radio Ngāti Porou in Ruatōria, Tautoko Radio in Mangamuka, Te Reo Irirangi o Kahungunu in Hastings, and Te Reo Irirangi o Te Arawa in Rotorua.


The ‘Matawaia Declaration’ is a call by bilingual school communities for the creation of an independent, statutory Māori education authority to establish Māori control and the autonomy of kaupapa Māori practices in the education system.


The Education Act 1989 formally recognises kura kaupapa Māori as educational institutions. The Act provides also that school charters must include the aim that ‘all reasonable steps are taken to provide instruction in tikanga Māori (Māori culture) and te reo Māori (the Māori language) for full-time students whose parents ask for it’.

Te Taura Whiri develops evaluation scales for testing second language proficiency and applies these to te reo Māori. A Government Sector Māori Language Allowance is introduced to provide a scale of payments based on testing by Te Taura Whiri, which also develops specialised terms for areas such as health and sport.

The broadcasting assets case seeks to prevent the transfer of the assets of the former Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand (BCNZ) to new broadcasting state-owned enterprises with a more commercial focus until provision for broadcasting in Māori is secured. This case ultimately reaches the Privy Council in London in 1993.

TVNZ sets goals of achieving 10% Māori content on both channels and increasing Māori staffing to 10%.

The New Zealand Journalists’ Union resolves that its members should not use English plurals on Māori words.

The Aotearoa Māori Radio Trust is set up to provide services in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Christchurch.


The government disagreed with the Treaty claim over the radio spectrum and legislated a new system for selling off licences to broadcast frequencies in 1989. Māori argued that the spectrum was an undiscovered taonga that had existed in 1840 and was covered by Article Two of the Treaty. The Tribunal supports the claim after hearings in 1990. The ‘Spectrum case’ (WAI150) results in low-quality FM frequencies being put aside for Māori radio in 1991.

The Education Act is amended to recognise wānanga as educational institutions and allow the Minister of Education to designate a state school as a kura kaupapa Māori.

2,500 terms have been coined by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori since 1987. The first glossary, Ngā kupu hou, is produced.

The Speaker of Parliament rules that an MP cannot be required to give a translation of their remarks when they speak in te reo Māori.


The census records the Māori population as 435,618.

The Flora and Fauna Claim (WAI262) is brought before the Waitangi Tribunal. The claim is about the place of Māori culture, identity and traditional knowledge in New Zealand's laws, and in government policies and practices. It concerns who controls Māori traditional knowledge, who controls artistic and cultural works such as haka and waiata, and who controls flora and fauna and the environment that has created Māori culture.

The Maori Language Amendment Act 1991 changes the official name of the Maori Language Commission from Te Komihana Mo Te Reo Maori | Maori Language Commission to Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.


The Ministry of Education launches Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, a curriculum for Māori-medium education based on Māori philosophies.

Te Taura Whiri publishes Te matatiki: ngā kupu hou a Te Whiri i te Reo Māori, Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara, New Zealand, 1992. The book sets out new words that the Commission produced since its establishment.

A survey finds 58% of non-Māori and 89% of Māori agree Māori should survive as a spoken language.

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi opens in Whakatāne, accredited to teach courses to PhD level, a world first for an indigenous tertiary education institution.


The Māori broadcasting funding agency Te Māngai Pāho is established to promote Māori language and culture, following litigation by the New Zealand Māori Council and Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo.


There are now more kōhanga reo (819) than kindergartens or playcentres. With over 14,000 enrolments, kōhanga reo are now responsible for close to half of all Māori enrolments in early childhood services.

Derek Fox estimates that ‘the number of Māori or Māori-related programmes on television is less than 1% of the total broadcast time’.

Learning Media publishes Ngata, H. M. (1993). English– Māori dictionary. Wellington, New Zealand.

New Zealand passports start using te reo Māori on the inside pages (on the cover from 2009).

Aotearoa Māori Radio Trust regional services stop.

Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi (Te Māngai Pāho) begins funding 20 iwi radio stations.

A survey shows that about 10,000 Māori adults are very fluent speakers of Māori.

Te Taura Whiri produces Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori guidelines for Māori language orthography, detailed guidance for written Māori.


He Kupu Arotake: A List of Terms for Education Evaluators, compiled by Ian Cormack, is published by the Education Review Office.

The Reed dictionary of modern Māori (P. Ryan) is published by Reed.

Gavin Ellis, the new editor of the country’s largest newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, issues a style directive banning the use of the plural ‘s’ on Māori words.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Te matatiki: contemporary Māori words is published by Oxford University Press.

Ruia Mai national Māori news service begins.

He Taonga Te Reo (Māori Language Year) is celebrated. At its conclusion, Hui Taumata Reo Māori is held in Wellington.


The New Zealand Māori Council and Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo launch an action in the High Court to prevent the sale of Radio New Zealand’s commercial ZB/ZM networks until protections for the language contained in undertakings by the Crown to the Privy Council have been implemented. As a result, a joint claimant/Crown working party on Māori radio and television works throughout the year to establish an agreed plan, which is published in two successive reports.

Officials and Te Māngai Pāho then surprise the claimants by calling for tenders for a free-to-air trial service of a cheaper UHF Māori television channel in Auckland. The project, Aotearoa Television Network, runs as a pilot from May to October 1996, then as an Auckland regional television service until February 1997. It makes an impact with its Māori-language programmes and its committed, energetic staff, but encounters management problems. In the end, the Māori challenge to the ZB/ZM sale fails in the Court of Appeal.

Consultation in 1997 shows support for a stand-alone, national Māori television service.

Māori make up 14.5% of the population – 523,371 out of 3,618,303.

The census form is released in te reo Māori. For the first time, the census asks respondents, ‘In which languages could you have a conversation about a lot of everyday things?’, with Māori one option among many.


The Cabinet agrees that the Crown and Māori have a duty, derived from the Treaty of Waitangi, to take all reasonable steps to actively enable the survival of Māori as a living language.

Mataira, K. (Ed.) (1997). A modern Māori picture dictionary: He papakupu whakaahua mo te reo Māori is published by Oxford University Press.

The Reed reference grammar of Māori, by Winifred Bauer, is published by Reed Publishing.

There are 54 kura kaupapa Māori and three whare wānanga. Over 32,000 students receive Māori-medium education and another 55,399 learn the Māori language. A total of 675 kōhanga reo and 30 developing kōhanga reo cater to 13,505 children.

The government announces funding for a Māori television channel and increased funding for Te Māngai Pāho.

Speaker of Parliament Douglas Kidd rules that MPs speaking in Māori do so as of right, and an interpreter will be provided.


Professor Whatarangi Winiata of Te Wānanga o Raukawa announces that the institution will not advertise in the Dominion because of the newspaper’s policy of adding an ‘s’ to plural Māori words. The editor, Richard Long, replies: ‘I am afraid you are in error in asserting that the correct plural form of Māori words in English language text is the same as the singular form’. This is the last gasp of the plural battle in newspapers – within two or three years, all major newspapers conform to Māori style.

This $15m funding was a Crown response to a new separate round of litigation, the data frequencies cases (3G claim – Rangiaho Everton). Māori won this Tribunal claim in 1999, (WAI776). The dissenting member, Judge Savage found an aggravated breach in the failure to protect te reo. He recommended not that Māori should go into negotiation over spectrum as a taonga, but that the Crown might put the funds from the 3G sale, a figure estimated to be something up to $100 million, into the protection of the Māori language. The Crown then announced $15m, to respond to the tribunal finding on te reo in the spectrum case. It became the Mā Te Reo fund.

The government announces that it has set aside a $15 million fund for Community Māori Language Initiatives, later called the Mā te Reo fund.

Te reo tupu: Māori–English–Māori encyclopedic dictionary is produced on CD-ROM by editors Gough, M. C., and Taiuru, K.


The government announces objectives and monitoring indicators for its Māori Language Strategy. The goals are:

  • To increase the number of people who know the Māori language by increasing their opportunities to learn Māori;
  • To improve the proficiency levels of people in speaking Māori, reading Māori, and writing Māori;
  • To increase the opportunities to use Māori by increasing the number of situations where Māori can be used;
  • To increase the rate at which the Māori language develops so that it can be used for the full range of modern activities;
  • To foster amongst Māori and non-Māori positive attitudes towards, and accurate beliefs and positive values about, the Māori language so that Māori–English bilingualism becomes a valued part of New Zealand society.

Tumeke te reo Māori, a series produced by Cinco Cine (Nicole Hoey and Hone Edwards) is broadcast on TV4 (TV3’s second channel). The show is hosted by Matai Smith, Te Hāmua Nikora, Reikura Morgan, Pirihira Hollings and Quinton Hita. Renamed Pūkana, it moves to TV3 in 2000.

The Waitangi Tribunal finds (in WAI776) that the radio spectrum can be used to protect and promote the Māori language.

A contract interpreter is made available in Parliament.

Te Taura Whiri publishes He kohinga kīwaha (Reed), a collection of te reo Māori idioms explained in the Māori language.

The national anthem is sung in te reo Māori only by Hinewehi Mohi at a Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham, London.

Professor Tīmoti Kāretu’s 12-year term as Māori Language Commissioner ends. Governance and management roles are split – the Commission now has a board, a board chair and a Chief Executive. Holden Hohaia is acting General Manager. Only Dr Miria Simpson stays on as a commissioner. The new commissioners are Waireti Tait-Rolleston, Ruka Broughton and Quinton Hita. Dr Patu Hohepa is the board chair and Haami Piripi is the Chief Executive.


The fifth and final volume of Ngā tāngata taumata rau is published. Over ten years this series published te reo Māori versions of over 500 biographies from the Dictionary of New Zealand biography. It remains the largest government-funded Māori language publication and is widely recognised for the quality and breadth of the reo used.

A simultaneous interpretation service is introduced in Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga (the Māori Affairs Committee Room).


A series of Hui Taumata are initiated by the Minister and Associate Minister of Education and Ngāti Tūwharetoa to debate issues, barriers, and future directions. Uia Ngā Whetū: Hui taumata reo is hosted in Wellington by Te Taura Whiri. Redevelopment of Māori education strategy, drawing on Te Puni Kōkiri's ‘Māori Potential Approach’ policy.

The Health of the Māori Language Survey 2001 shows there are approximately 136,700 Māori language speakers. A survey of attitudes toward the Māori language finds that 94% of Māori and 90% of non-Māori believe it is good for Māori people to speak Māori on the marae and at home. 68% of Māori (40% of non-Māori) believe it is good for Māori to speak Māori in public places or at work. The Māori population is 526,281 – 14% of 3,737, 277.

Te aka MāoriEnglish dictionary. EnglishMāori dictionary (3rd edition). Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson.

Ray Harlow’s A Māori reference grammar is published by Longman. A second edition will be published in 2015 by Huia Publishers.

The government announces the establishment of a Crown-owned Māori Television Service. The foundation issues are worked through with the litigants in the broadcasting cases, key Māori stakeholders and national Māori organisations, which establish an initial electoral college to work with the Crown on founding legislation.

Queen Victoria College closes.

Q's course in Māori is written by Quinton Hita and illustrated by Zak Waipara (HarperCollins). ‘You want to learn Māori? Q's course makes it easy.’

Te Māngai Pāho funds 21 iwi radio stations.


The Oaths and Declarations Act is amended so that oaths and declarations can be sworn or affirmed in the Māori language.

Te Taura Whiri reports that: ‘The failure by the state sector to prioritise development and implementation of the Government’s Māori Language Strategy has created a strategic vacuum leading to uncertainty and inactivity amongst Government agencies. This fact undermines the status of the Māori language as an official language of New Zealand.’

The Mā te Reo Fund is established to support Māori language growth in communities.

Te tangata whai rawa o Wēneti (a Māori language film version of William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice) is released in cinemas.


A revised Government Māori Language Strategy is launched. The goals to be achieved by 2028 are:

  • The majority of Māori will be able to speak Māori to some extent and proficiency levels in speaking, listening to, reading and writing will increase.
  • Māori language use will be increased at marae, within Māori households, and other targeted domains.
  • All Māori and other New Zealanders will have enhanced access to high-quality Māori language education.
  • Iwi, hapū and local communities will be the leading parties in ensuring local-level language revitalisation.
  • Iwi dialects of the Māori language will be supported.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Puni Kōkiri publish ‘Te Rautaki Reo Māori: The Māori Language Strategy’ (MLS), following Cabinet confirmation. The MLS sets out a vision for the future of the Māori language, including five long-term goals. The MLS also identifies the functions of government in supporting these long-term goals. Te Taura Whiri reports to Parliament that it has had no substantive increase in funding since 1987. Te Taura Whiri Māori Language Services evaluates the quality of 10 hours of Māori radio broadcasts, and 40 scripts and 15 rough-cut videos destined for screening on the Māori Television Service for Te Māngai Pāho. Te Taura Whiri also works closely with Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Television Service and independent producers to create Māori Language Quality Indicators.

The first round of the new proficiency examinations is held. Seventeen people participate in the level finder examination and six people undertake the new Public Sector Māori examination.

The Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act is passed in Parliament.

Launch of irirangi.net – live streaming of Te Māngai Paho iwi radio stations.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori hosts the 7th Polynesian Languages Conference for the Polynesian Languages Forum in Wellington from 30 June.


On 29 March, the Māori Television Service begins broadcasting, mainly in te reo Māori. It is to play a key role in the survival of the language.

The inaugural Māori Language Week Awards are held in Wellington on 14 September.

There are three permanent full-time positions in Parliament for Kaiwhakamārama Reo to undertake interpretation, transcription and translation services.

Te Taura Whiri promotes ‘Give it a go, Kōrero Māori’ as the theme of Māori Language Week (26 July–1 August).

The MAONZE Project studying the pronunciation of te reo Māori starts.

Te Reo Pāngarau: A Māori language dictionary of mathematics, by Ian Christensen, is published by the Ministry of Education.

Te Taura Whiri’s board members are Hana O’Regan, Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Dr Patu Hohepa, Wayne Ngata, and Ruakere Hond.


Te Taura Whiri launches the interactive ‘Kōrero Māori’ website.

Māori-language versions of the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office are released.The translation was a collaboration between Microsoft, Te Taura Whiri and the University of Waikato.

Aotahi Ltd publishes Taking care of business: business terms in Aotearoa, he papakupu pakihi: English–Māori business directory.

Te Taura Whiri, the Human Rights Commission and Progressive Enterprises Ltd collaborate to create and make available Māori language booklets. Foodtown and Woolworths supermarkets around New Zealand distribute the booklets, which encourage people to give the Māori language a go.

Te Taura Whiri chair Dr Patu Hohepa comments: ‘The past year has seen Māori language expanding in the public arena. Matariki has entered many more communities and organisations as an iconic occasion. NZ Reo NZ Pride anthem cards are used by thousands of sports fans. Many mainstream television newsreaders preface and end broadcasts with “kia ora” and ”pō marie”. Māori radio stations and Māori television now span the country, and so do the various Māori language productions of other media networks. On public occasions, Her Excellency the Governor General, the Prime Minister, various Ministers and Parliamentarians, civic leaders, and officials merge Māori with English in a positive and fluent manner.’


Williams’ Dictionary of the Māori language (1957 edition) goes online at Victoria University’s Electronic Text Centre.

Health of Māori language and attitudinal surveys by Te Puni Kōkiri show an increase in Māori language skills and positive attitudes to te reo.

The Māori population remains 14% of the total – 565,329 out of 4,027,947.

Tirohia kimihia: A Māori learner dictionary (te reo Māori headwords and definitions) is published by Huia Publishers.


There are now 464 kōhanga reo, down from a peak of 819 in 1993.

Leaders in Māori-medium, iwi-based education form Ngā Kura ā Iwi to support tribal schools. By 2013, there are 32 schools in Ngā Kura ā Iwi.


Te Taura Whiri produces He pātaka kupu: te kai a te rangatira, a comprehensive dictionary of the Māori language for proficient speakers.

On 24 July, a fully translated Māori-language interface for Google was launched at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, a Māori university.

A second Māori TV channel, Te Reo, is launched.

Te Māngai Pāho celebrates over 500,000 hours of Māori language programming.

The supreme award at the Māori Language Week awards is won jointly by Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi Rūnanga and TV3.

Te karere celebrates its 25th anniversary.


An independent panel, Te Kāhui o Māhutonga, completes a review of the Māori Television Service Act (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) 2003.

One-quarter of Māori aged 15 to 64 years can hold a conversation in te reo Māori.

A fourth interpreter is appointed in Parliament.

There are 28,231 students in Māori-medium education, in 394 schools.

Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law announces the completion of a Legal Māori Corpus and Legal Māori lexicon.

Simultaneous interpretation of te reo Māori into English becomes available in Parliament and its galleries, and on Parliament TV.

Contractual responsibility for the Te Ātaarangi programme He Kāinga Kōrerorero in 2009/10 transfers from Te Puni Kōkiri to Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

The 73 kura kaupapa Māori have just over 6,000 students.

Islam’s holy book the Koran is translated into Māori by Pakistani physicist Shakil Ahmad Monir. It has taken him seven years to learn Māori and 25 years to translate the Kuranu Tapu.

Te Taura Whiri signs a partnership agreement with Air New Zealand.

Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira is awarded the 2009 Linguapax Award by the Linguapax Institute. Based in Barcelona, Spain, this nongovernmental organisation established by UNESCO is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of linguistic diversity around the world.

Telecom adds 100 commonly used kupu Māori to the mobile phone text dictionary on three devices it offers. Kupu Māori can be entered using the predictive text message function and auto voice dialling.


The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa corrects the spelling of Whanganui. Te Taura Whiri considers this ‘a major outcome for both iwi and language’, noting: ‘It is also particularly heartening to know that since the “Whanganui” decision, a number of organisations, public and private, have adopted the correct spelling including the Whanganui District Health Board, the Whanganui National Park and the local UCOL.’

Just under half (48.7%) of Māori aged 65 years and over can hold a conversation in te reo Māori.

Simultaneous translation of te reo Māori to English is introduced to Parliament’s debating chamber and galleries, and on Parliament Television.


The Waitangi Tribunal’s report on the WAI262 Flora and Fauna claim is finally published, 20 years after the claim was filed. Chapter 5 (‘Te Reo’) calls for the Māori Language Commission to be given increased powers and become the lead Māori language sector agency.

The Kōhanga Reo claim (WAI2336) by the Kōhanga Reo National Trust asserts that the Crown assimilated the kōhanga reo movement into its early childhood education regime under the Ministry of Education, and subsequently stifled its role in revitalising and promoting the Māori language.

Te Reo Mauriora report on the Māori Language Strategy recommends the appointment of a minister for Māori language, and the establishment of Te Mātāwai to provide direction on all matters pertaining to the Māori language. It says re-establishing te reo in homes is the key requirement for Māori language revitalisation. It recommends that the future implementation of the revitalisation strategy be led by iwi.

More than one in six Māori aged under 15 (35,148 people) can hold a conversation in te reo Māori.


In the WAI2336 Kōhanga Reo claim, the Tribunal finds that the Crown has failed to adequately sustain the specific needs of kōhanga reo through its funding formula, quality measures, and regulatory regime. These failures constitute breaches of the Treaty.

A Waitangi Tribunal judge rules that legal counsel for Ngāti Pehi Te Kanawa cannot cross-examine English speakers in te reo Māori, citing time and resource constraints.

The Bible Society publishes a reformatted edition of the 1952 text of Te Paipera Tapu featuring paragraphs and incorporating macrons and punctuation to help readers understand the text.

History is made with a Māori language production of William Shakespeare’s play Troilus and Cressida, translated by Te Haumihiata Mason, at London’s Globe Theatre in April.

Māori Television launches a full immersion te reo Māori website to complement its children’s show, Miharo. The website has stories and games for children aged 5 to 10 years.


A survey of attitudes toward the Māori language finds that 98% of Māori and 96% of non-Māori believe it is good for Māori people to speak Māori on the marae and at home. 94% of Māori (80% of non-Māori) believe it is good for Māori to speak Māori in public places or at work.

Te Taura Whiri is delighted by a government decision, announced in the 2013 Budget, to increase investment in Māori language. The Budget announcements include funding for Mā te Reo Fund, He Kāinga Kōrerorero, a home-based Māori language mentoring programme, and a new Māori Language Research and Development fund.

Google Māori, the Māori interface of online search engine Google, is launched.

Statistics New Zealand carries out the first survey of Māori well-being, Te Kupenga. Information is collected on a wide range of topics to give an overall picture of the social, cultural and economic well-being of Māori, including the well-being of te reo Māori.

According to the 2013 census, 125,352 Māori respondents (21.3%) can ‘hold a conversation about a lot of everyday things in te reo Māori’ – a 4.8% decrease since 2006.

17,343 students are involved in Māori-medium education, an increase of 6% since 2001

For the first time, the Māori Affairs Committee recommends that a bill include a full te reo Māori translation. Previously, Bills have been passed in English and then translated into Māori. The bill is the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill, which restores the mana, character and reputation of Te Whakatōhea chief Mokomoko and his descendants. It becomes the first legislation with text in both English and te reo Māori to be passed


The High Court upholds a Waitangi Tribunal direction preventing legal counsel cross-examining English speakers in te reo Māori. Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori states, ‘The High Court decision is a big loss for te reo Māori. The decision sets a precedent that may lead to the erosion of the place of te reo Māori in our legal system.’

200 years after Samuel Marsden first preached in New Zealand, the Bible Society publishes sample translations of Te Rongopai a Ruka (The Gospel of Luke) as the first stage of a project to produce a new edition of Te Paipera Tapu in contemporary Māori.

A five-year contract is signed between Te Taura Whiri and Te Ataarangi Trust to deliver a new programme, Te Kura Whānau Reo, from the Community Based Language Initiatives fund.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori establishes He Puna Whakarauora, a research centre devoted to the revitalisation of te reo Māori.

According to Borrowed words: a history of loanwords (Oxford University Press, 2014), te reo Māori is among the top 15 languages from which English borrows words.


A Māori Language Advisory Group is established to provide independent and expert advice on the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill.

Scotty Morrison, author of The raupo phrasebook of modern Māori, publishes Māori made easy, ‘allowing the reader to take control of their learning in an empowering way. By committing just 30 minutes a day for 30 weeks, learners will adopt the language easily and as best suits their busy lives’.

Ray Harlow’s Māori reference grammar (second edition) is published by Huia Publishers.

Ngahiwi Apanui is appointed Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri.


Te Ture mō te Reo Māori – the second bilingual Act and the first in which the Māori language has precedence – passes in April. It includes a Crown acknowledgement of the harm it has inflicted on te reo Māori, and a commitment to its revitalisation. It establishes Te Mātāwai to represent iwi and Māori. Te Taura Whiri will no longer promote community revitalisation but gains the new role of ‘leading the coordination of the implementation’ of Maihi Karauna, the Crown’s Māori Language Strategy. It will target its efforts on both the state sector and wider New Zealand.

Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Taura Whiri produce Bilingual Signage Guidelines urging that English-only signs be progressively replaced with Māori–only plus an image, or with signage in both Māori and English. A list of more than 250 sign translations is published to accompany the guidelines.

Māori Language Week celebrates te reo Māori with its first hīkoi whakangahau, a parade. These continue in 2017, 2018 and 2019.


Te Mātāwai holds its first meeting. Te Mātāwai upholds the Maihi Māori component of Te Whare o te reo Mauriora. It focuses on: investment in language initiatives; research and evaluation of initiatives; and strategic leadership.

Vincent Olsen-Reeder becomes Victoria University’s first PhD candidate to submit and defend their thesis in te reo Māori. Vincent’s doctoral research investigates the effectiveness of bilingualism as a theoretical approach to language revitalisation, and the ways in which a bilingualism approach could remove some of the anxieties surrounding Māori language use among tertiary learners.

The Māori language version of Disney's Moana is released, with translation by Katarina Edmonds, Waldo Houia and Vicky Demant. The project is supported by Te Mangai Pāho with production led by Tweedie Waititi in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios. The movie is released during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and screens at selected cinemas around the country. In 2020, Walt Disney Studios releases the te reo Māori version as a special feature on the Disney+ streaming site.

New Zealand Post works with Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori to create a te reo Māori stamp issue celebrating the growth and adaptability of the Māori language. The stamps are designed by David Hakaraia and artist Elisabeth Vüllings.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa launches the Taringa podcast during Matariki 2017. A bilingual podcast about all things Māori, Taringa is hosted by Paraone Gloyne, Te Puaheiri Snowden and Erica Sinclair. They are often joined by special guests, the first of whom is Māori astronomer Professor Rangi Matamua.

Moetū, the te reo Māori version of Witi Ihimaera’s novella Sleeps standing, is published by RHNZ Vintage after being translated by Hēmi Kelly. Moetū centres on the last battle of the Waikato War, fought at Ōrākau between 31 March and 2 April 1864. Most New Zealanders know this story as Rewi's last stand, immortalised in two films in the early twentieth century and a later novel by A. W. Reed.

Huawei releases the first smartphone operating system in te reo Māori. The HUAWEI P10 Series offer the world’s vendor-developed Māori language operation system. Users can choose to use their device entirely in te reo Māori, or utilise a dual English and te reo Māori keyboard.

Rotorua becomes the first city to declare itself bilingual in te reo Māori and English.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommends that Aotearoa ‘strengthens the inclusion of te reo Māori instruction in its core educational curriculum for all New Zealand students, and increases its efforts to mainstream the use of the Māori language throughout the country’.


Professor Tīmoti Samuel Kāretu is knighted for his services to the Māori language.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori launches the theme 'Kia Kaha te Reo Māori' and the Hei Tiki logo designed by Kāterina Kerekere and Tim Hansen of Fay & Walter Design. This becomes the theme and brand for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori for the next two years, and a symbol for te reo Māori.

One in six Māori adults say they can speak te reo Māori. A third say they can understand the language at least fairly well.

Professor Whatarangi Winiata, founder of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Māori Language Awards for his contribution to the revitalisation of te reo Māori over 50 years.

According to Statistics New Zealand, 53% of New Zealanders say te reo Māori should be a core subject in primary schools.

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research finds that ‘Government policy to support te reo Māori in kura and schools has lacked cohesion and has yet to address the shortage of reo Māori teachers. This includes teachers of the language and those able to teach in te reo Māori’.


Te Panekiretanga o te Reo Māori – The Excellence of the Māori Language ends with 33 students graduating. An elite te reo Māori programme under the umbrella of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, its aim has been to foster the oratorical skills of a generation of te reo speakers. About 350 students have gone through the invitation-only full immersion te reo Māori and tikanga course since 2014, with many of them now among the most highly regarded te reo Māori speakers and educators in Aotearoa.

The album Waiata anthems features te reo versions of popular Aotearoa tracks. It features some of New Zealand's most iconic musicians, including Shapeshifter, Six60, Sons of Zion, Kings, Drax Project and Bic Runga.

Te rātaka a tētahi kōhine (The diary of a young girl), written by Jewish teenager Anne Frank while she was in hiding during the Second World War, is translated by Te Haumihiata Mason.

Rahera and Te Waihoroi Shortland are named as joint winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Māori Language Awards.

Hēni Jacob translates Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a wimpy kid – Te rātaka a tama hūngoingoi.

Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust and Auckland University Press launch an initiative to translate 100 popular novels into te reo Māori in the next 10 years, among them J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

The Crown’s Māori language strategy, Maihi Karauna, is launched. The main three goals are that by 2040:

  • at least 85% of New Zealanders will value te reo Māori as a key part of national identity;
  • one million New Zealanders can speak at least basic te reo Māori;
  • 150,000 Māori aged 15 and over will use te reo Māori as much as English.


Over one million New Zealanders celebrate te reo Māori on 14 September by coming together at midday for a te reo Māori moment.

Hare Pota me te whatu manapou, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone, is translated into Māori by Leon Heketū Blake and published by Auckland University Press.

In April, Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori releases a list of Māori terminology for Covid-related kupu to help te reo Māori speakers and translators during the pandemic.  

The number of secondary school students studying te reo Māori exceeds 30,000 for the first time.

The Dominion Post newspaper has a masthead with te reo Māori for Matariki, using the name ‘Te Pūrongo o te Upoko-o-te-Ika’.


The government launches Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. The programme aims to improve te reo Māori acquisition, proficiency and use in the education sector.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority announces it will no longer hear complaints about the use of te reo Māori. The Authority notes that te reo Māori is an official New Zealand language and that its use is protected and promoted by law.

The Māori Language Moment, organised by Te Taura Whiri, is awarded the Grand Prix Award by the International Public Relations Association. This is the first time a New Zealand initiative has won the award, which is usually goes to large international companies.

The song ‘35’ by Ka Hao goes viral on the video-sharing platform TikTok. The song is used more than 20,000 times, with many people in Aotearoa and overseas performing the dance moves from the music video.