Breakfast crew gets groove on as Māori Language Week kicks off with te reo remake of disco classic

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori has kicked off in Aotearoa today with virtual celebrations occurring across the country throughout the week.

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Over 700,000 people have signed up to celebrate the moment remotely in their own way. Source: Breakfast

Like many annual events, Māori Language Week has had to go digital due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

To celebrate the first day, a virutal Māori Language Moment is taking place at 12pm, an open invitation to all New Zealanders to celebrate the language in their own way.

Over 800,000 people have signed up to take part in the moment already and the Māori language commission is aiming to get one million taking part in the moment.

Ways of taking part include café owners playing a Māori language song, office workers pausing to do the quiz in te reo or school students starting lunch with a karakia or a haka.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta says having virtual celebrations is an "exciting new way" for New Zealanders to get involved.

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Pere Wihongi performed September by Earth Wind and Fire to celebrate the beginning of Māori Language Week. Source: Breakfast

“Regardless of where you are on the learning spectrum, this is one of the many initiatives that every New Zealander can participate in using the language and being more confident and comfortable with Te Reo Māori in your own environment.”

Musician Pere Wihongi also appeared on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning to mark the beginning of the week. He performed September by Earth Wind and Fire, but in te reo.

The rendition, translated to Mahuru in Māori, had the Breakfast presenters boogieing along.

Wihongi, a former reporter for TVNZ1's Te Karere, says it's important to give te reo a go, even if you don't know much.

"Simple little commitments can do so much for Te Reo Māori," he said.

Māori Language Week has been celebrated each year in New Zealand since 1975. 

This year it runs from 14-20 September.