The legal community is being called to speak more Māori in the workplace, as the country seeks to revitalize the language, increase its number of speakers, and improve their fluency.
Last month, the country marked Māori Language Week with the theme “Kia ora Te Reo Māori” (“let the Māori language live”). Those in the legal profession joined in by incorporating the language into daily conversations, communications, and emails, according to Alana Thomas, director of Auckland firm Kaupare Law & Consultancy. There were also a number of activities that organisations supported to learn more about the Māori culture.
But Thomas said the greater use of Māori shouldn’t be limited to just one week. She believes the overarching goal is to “normalise” the language.
“To me it means not being surprised when I hear Te Reo being spoken outside of my home or outside the marae. That we no longer have to learn the language or fight for recognition, because it will just be a part of all New Zealanders’ everyday lives, like English,” she told the New Zealand Law Society
Thomas said the legal professionals can start by holding Māori language classes in the office, as well as talks about practices and protocols Māori culture through professional development courses
As an official language, the law recognises individuals’ right to speak Māori in legal proceedings, whether or not they are able to understand or communicate in English or any other language.
“The legal fraternity are known for making changes, pushing boundaries and stepping outside of what is comfortable – so let’s be known for this as well and lead the charge to normalise Te Reo Māori within the law,” said Thomas.
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