Some Māori struggling with 'language trauma' as number of Kiwis learning te reo continues to surge, Scotty Morrison says

The number of Kiwis - especially non-Māori Kiwis - learning te reo continues to surge, but some Māori are suffering from "language trauma" after decades of having their language oppressed, a leading Māori broadcaster says.

Te Karere's Scotty Morrison, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme, said it brings him great joy to see the surge in interest from Kiwis wanting to learn the langauge, and the classes he teaches are full.

"Daily I'll be getting calls from people wanting to learn the language ... it's happening all around the country," Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said non-Māori often have an easier time learning te reo, as they come in fresh, while Māori often suffer from "language trauma" where there is a strong emotional attachment to their learning.

That trauma comes from decades of the language being oppressed and discouraged in New Zealand.

"It was on a serious decline for a long time," Mr Morrison said.

"That kind of trauma is still with a lot of Māori people ... people who aren't Māori can just come in and go for it.

"In the last three to five years we've started to see the tide changing."


A Guardian article published at the weekend quoted University of Auckland language expert John McCaffery, who said "Māori has gone mainstream".

"It has been really dramatic, the past three years in particular," Mr McCaffery said.

"What we’re seeing is a clear indication that the language’s status and prestige has risen dramatically and research shows that is one of the key indicators of whether children and young people will be interested and committed to learning it."

Mr Morrison praised Breakfast host Jack Tame, who has undertaken lessons in te reo, for his championing and consistent usage of the language on the show, reaching a wide audience.

He also noted that "ministers in government are all starting to get on board" - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave her daughter Neve the Māori middle name Te Aroha when she was born on June 21.

In terms of teaching te reo in schools, Mr Morrison said he can see it happening in the near future.

"I think we're headed in that direction and that's really positive and it brings me great joy," Mr Morrison said.

"The value of learning te reo ... it actually teaches you a lot more about yourself and where your place is in Aotearoa."

Classes are full, with non-Māori especially keen to learn Te Reo Māori. Source: Breakfast