I'm a Māori Speaker

Hei tautoko i tō tamaiti


  • The first thing you need to do is make a pact with yourself that you will only speak Māori to your baby - ideally right from birth (or as soon as possible from now on). Making the pact is the easy part, so you will need to be determined to stick with it - remember you're in it for the long haul!

  • Speak Māori with your child everywhere you go - visiting friends or whānau, shopping, at the park,at the rugby or netball, everywhere ... and in the presence of people who do not speak Māori.

  • You might want to let friends and family know about the decision you've made to speak only in Māori to your child.

  • Teach your child waiata and sing together often.

  • Encourage your child to speak Māori at all times including when you are out.

  • Teach your child karakia.

  • Encourage your child to "play" in Māori eg talking on the phone, role plays, playing card games, singing waiata. Play with them in Māori so that they learn the language that goes with the games.

  • Make up rhymes and/or put a tune to the words in their storybooks.

  • Develop new strategies each month to increase you child's exposure to Māori language.

  • If you have more than one child, encourage the children to speak only in Māori to each other.

  • If your child is fortunate enough to have Māori-speaking grandparents, encourage them to speak Māori with you and your child and encourage Māori language bonding to take place between grandparents and child.

  • Seek out other local Māori speakers and other Māori speaking families so that your child has Māori speaking mates.

  • Try to visit other Māori speaking homes regularly so that speaking Māori in other homes becomes normal too.

  • If you work away from home, think about how your child will get sufficient exposure to Māori language each day - consider routinely reading in Māori at bedtime, preparing and eating breakfast together or other daily activities that you can do together in Māori.

  • Make sure your child knows that you are proud that he/she speaks Māori - tell them often.


Why is it important to speak only in Māori to you child at all times? Because you need to avoid giving messages such as:

  • English takes precedence when non-speakers of Māori are present

  • Māori is only relevant at home

  • It's embarrassing or not right to speak Māori anywhere else

  • We shouldn't speak Māori in front of other people.


If you don't maintain the ‘Māori language-only' rule in the company of non-speakers, your child will think that you are ashamed of using Māori in public. Once Māori is seen in a negative light by your child, it will be hard to change their perceptions.