Revitalising te reo Māori: More Māori Than Ever Answer the Call!

Pānui Pāpāho

The passion and dedication to restore Te Reo Māori continues to grow in iwi, hapū, and whānau across Aotearoa. Te Mātāwai, the independent statutory entity entrusted with the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori by and for Māori, has been inundated with applications from Māori whānau, marae, community groups, and businesses for their 2023-2024 Investment Programme, a contestable fund.


This year, Te Mātāwai received an incredible five hundred applications, marking a one hundred percent increase from last year and setting a new record for the highest number of applications ever received. As Bernie O’Donnel, Co-chair of Te Mātāwai, sums up, “The groundswell of support from our people on the front lines, who hold the mana of our reo, is truly inspiring. It’s clear our connection with our homes and communities is stronger than ever, as too are our people’s commitment to seeing Te Reo return to the home.”


Reikura Kahi, Te Mātāwai’s co-chair explained, “We’re privileged with a unique model, where it’s the people on the ground are the ones who are driving Te Mātāwai...they are the ones who are closest to our reo, and they are the ones who are going to revitalize it, and our role is supporting these initiatives and empowering our communities to continue on their Te Reo learning trajectory.”


However, this increased demand for revitalization initiatives far surpasses the funding allocated to Te Mātāwai. This year, Te Mātāwai received applications totaling a record-breaking $39 million, but with only a $10.8 million appropriation available for distribution, the shortfall is significant. As Te Mātāwai’s CEO, Poia Rewi, shared, "Unfortunately, we're having to say more and more, 'kua pau te puna putea’. We wish we could support all of our people to revitalize Te Reo Māori in their homes. Our review and moderation system is robust, led by representatives from the community and ensures funding goes toward the most focussed applications. Still, we’re not looking forward to hearing from disheartened applicants this year who have missed out on the much-needed lift in funding.”


Te Mātāwai, as an independent entity, responsible for the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori in the communities has seen no increase in funding since it was established seven years ago, despite the growing recognition of the importance of Te Reo Māori to the nation, and increased funding initiatives to Crown agencies. The Te Mātāwai Board has been direct in their message to the Minister’s of the Governance Partnership group (Te Rūnanga Reo) and the Māori Affairs Select Committee, expressing the need for more pūtea to continue their programme to enable and empower their people on the ground.

Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori