The Māori Language Commission has paid tribute to more than one million New Zealanders who made history today by coming together to celebrate te reo Māori at the same time.

“This is the largest, single celebration of te reo Māori in our history. We have never had this many people celebrating our language together at the same time,” said Māori Language Commissioner, Professor Rawinia Higgins.

“We would like to pay tribute to those across Aotearoa and the world, our smallest towns to our largest cities, our elderly to our babies who joined us today.”

The commission’s Māori Language Moment marked the day and hour when a small group of language champions presented the Māori Language Petition to parliament in 1972. The sign-up website saw more than 500,000 people sign up in the last three days. The last hour before 12pm saw the commission’s websites and online Zuimano struggle to cope.

“Our virtual whare struggled to cope as more than a million language champions arrived to celebrate te reo with us. But we found room and everyone was with us as we celebrated the Māori language, together,” said commission chief executive, Ngahiwi Apanui.

“There are people still logging on to let us know they took part: because the site was unable to record them when they tried to sign up earlier in the day.”

The unprecedented moment was a response from the commission to COVID-19: a way to keep people safe, while also bringing them together.

Thousands of initiatives are taking place across Aotearoa celebrating te reo Māori. 

The new website www.reomaori.co.nz will provide support to learners throughout the year.

While the Māori Language Moment website www.tuku.reomaori.co.nz will remain in place for those who were unable to sign up before 12pm to record their moment. So far 1,023,751 people have recorded their Maōri Language Moment.