Story: Te reo Māori – the Māori language

'Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori'

In this 1988 Waka huia episode, Sir James Hēnare (Tā Hēmi Henare) uses the phrase which has become the rallying cry of the Māori-language revitalisation movement, ‘Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori’ – the language is the life force of the mana Māori. Hēnare said this during the Waitangi Tribunal hearings in 1985, and was quoted with approval in the final report.  The full quote and translation of the film clip is:

Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.
Ko te kupu te mauri o te reo Māori.
E rua ēnei wehenga kōrero e hāngai tonu ana ki runga i te reo Māori.
Ko te reo, nō te Atua mai.

The language is the life force of the mana Māori.
The word is the life force of the language.
These two ideas are absolutely crucial to the Māori language.
A language, which is a gift to us from God. 

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How to cite this page:

Rawinia Higgins and Basil Keane, 'Te reo Māori – the Māori language - Language decline, 1900 to 1970s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/video/41077/ko-te-reo-te-mauri-o-te-mana-maori (accessed 30 March 2017)

Story by Rawinia Higgins and Basil Keane, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Sep 2015