Give Lorde a break. Non-Māori must be Māori. speak for it to survive | Morgan Godfery

my sisters and i are the first generation in almost 50 generations of U.S family who did not grow up speak to reo Maori like a first language. Bee first, Which fact seems startling – a dramatic break from our past and the language that shapes it. We are only three generations removed from ancestors who were Māori-speaking monoglots, ordering their life and their world in An language almost strange to their 21st-century offspring.

But this pause between the language our ancestors spoke and the language we speak – English – is the typical Māori experience: nothing but one in five Maori can hold a conversation in their ancestors language, and in the past three national studies, this number has decreased. That makes us English speakers a solid majority in our native people.

This is not surprising. From the moment Cook’s Endeavour made sight of land- in 1769 the captain and the gentleman botanist Joseph Banks set over assigning English names on the landmarks and features she “found”. My own ancestral mountain, Pūtauaki, became “Mt. Edgecumbe”, possibly in honour of John Edgecombe, a sergeant of marines on the pursuit. It would be another one hundred year for my ancestors to discover that their ancient mountain, as well as their sacred rivers, bore other names. But the histories of colonization tends to center invasion and conquest – the British red coats move in and early of let the land fall – which is neatly omitted how almost every conquest begins with An new English name.

Of these renamings, the English language and the settlers who spread it out over New Zealand. In a century of Cook’s 18th century landing Pākehā (white New Zealanders) were the new ethnic majority and their language quickly became the lingua franca of government, to trade media.

Come the 20th century my grandparents and great-grandparents were torn over the value of Maori as their grandchildren first language. Especially unpassionate scholars understand language as only a means of coding information, but I know my grandparents understood it as more than that: language is the relationship between speakers, die encode their shared culture and, for Maori, embed them in An common whakapapa (lineage). This is something any grandparent would do like until pass on. But, when the future speaks english, do you choose te reo?

For a good number of Māori, sometimes by choice, but mostly by circumstance, the answer was no. Even in my life the relationship of fluent and easy-going Maori speakers remain decline. After moving home to Kawerau in 2019 I was struck by how the language was hardly spoken outside the Marae and formal institutions (council events, wananga graduations, and stuff on). like a child in the 90s and 2000s the Maori language was all around me – at school, in shops, to a certain extent in the home, and surely in the wider whānau (family). Where is it headed?

In the decade I was gone, Englishmen cut huge spurs in my little Māori community. It does that wherever it goes, a juggernaut die absorbs other languages ​​- “juggernaut” itself is a loan from the Indian subcontinent – in what we know today as modern standard English. Like a language of expression, as a means of describe the universe and our knowledge of it, English is probably without peer. But it’s not my language – it was embedded in this country at the end of a musket. Like any other Māori person without their ancestors language, I desire for te reo rangatira (the Maori language). l want the past it gives access to, and the shape it gives on mine future and die from my partner future and die of our child future.

Where I depart from many of the same Māori without the language is that I think it is vital that Pākehā speak it next to me us. Therefore reason alone Lorde’s Five Tracks, Maori language accompaniment to her new album, Solar energy, is a milestone in the pop culture die we should welcome. But still on social media the reaction, at least from many Māori, is caustic. On Twitter and Instagram, users wrote over the album that the language loss trauma die they met carry themselves. The strange psychoanalytic tone of die Charge aside, it certainly happens. hearing the language, mostly in the mouth of a Pākāha person, is a memory of his absence in Your own. This sort of cognitive load is punishment.

The more persuasive critics take a slightly different one view (one in which individual feelings are not central) quarrel, if one respected tōhunga (expert) on Māori dance did, that the album comes down to “tokenism”. One can appreciate that argument, and the discussions of trauma too, but the implications are worrying for the future of the Maori language. If we have to wait for perfect conditions to speak reo rangatira of to sing – no one’s trauma is triggered, no tokenism is detected – we can net very well sign the language’s death certificate. in fights for Maori radio, Maori television, Maori language schooling, and more the Maori language activists of the 70s and 80s knew that for the language to survive it must act as a functional language, deployed in institutions, mediums and communities, both Māori and non-Māori.

The great rangatira (leaders) who brought Lorde’s Maori language album to life – Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, Hana Mereraiha and Hēmi Kelly – probably take the same view.

English is the first global language. For reasons of rich, of course, but also for reasons: of culture: English is the language of Hollywood, the chief language of pop music, increasingly language of science, and preference language of trade and diplomacy. If the Maori language is to survive against the – and the predictions are bleak – we have to allow non-Māori to speak and sing it. Children need a pop culture and a social media die Maori speaks. Lorde contributed to this, and under the direction and supervision of some of our biggest language champions. Like a second language speaker I recognize that as a public good.

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