New Zealand broadcasters refuse to stop using Mori words

Presenters defiant as hundreds of listeners say use of Te Reo on radio and television excludes those who dont speak the language

High-profile New Zealand media personalities are refusing to back down from using Mori words in their prime-time broadcasting, despite hundreds of complaints from English speakers who say they feel excluded by the use of the Te Reo language.

Newshub presenter Kanoa Lloyd, who is of Mori descent, first began introducing Te Reo words to her weather reports in 2015 and immediately received a weekly torrent of complaints and online abuse. Many listeners said they were unhappy with Lloyd referring to New Zealand by its Te Reo name of Aotearoa, and to the North and South Islands by their Te Reo names of Te Ika-a-Maui and Te Waipounamu.

Lloyd defied her critics and has continued using Te Reo words in her job as co-host of The Project NZ. Her staunch approach to preserving the indigenous language seems to have inspired other broadcasters to follow suit.

In 2016, Radio New Zealand journalists began signing off their reports in Te Reo. TVNZ presenter Jack Tame uses it regularly on his Breakfast show, as does Morning Report presenter Guyon Espiner. But the trend has sparked anger among some viewers. Morning Report state they receive around half a dozen complaints on an average day.

Radio New Zealand the New Zealand equivalent of the BBC is supposed to be free of political meddling. Yet now it has been hijacked, and its hapless staff obliged to dispense their daily dose of Te Reo, wrote opinion writer Dave Witherow in The Otago Daily Times last week.

There were just a few words to begin with. Then longer sentences which have kept on growing until the keener young grovellers now begin and end their spiels with expansive swatches of a lingo understood by only a minuscule proportion of their audience.

On Monday night Lloyd recorded a passionate two-minute video rebuttal to her detractors, saying: I actually felt a bit sorry for these guys, sorry the world is moving too fast for you my bros.

The change has already happened. The Earth isnt flat, climate change is real, the treaty was signed, were speaking Mori!

The Project NZ (@TheProject_NZ)

Got a problem with broadcasters speaking in Te Reo Mori? If so, Kanoa Lloyd has some sweet words for you!

November 27, 2017

Espiner of Morning Report said he received daily messages from New Zealanders telling him to stop speaking gibberish, but has committed to normalising and encouraging the use of Te Reo through his programme, which is listened to by nearly half a million New Zealanders every day.

We have used Mori words for some time on the programme and I am not the first presenter to do that, Espiner told the Guardian.

There does seem to be a lot of people who feel that it [Te Reo] threatens them or they dont want to hear it … but were going full steam ahead.

RNZ (@radionz)

We have a collection of greetings in te reo Mori used on RNZ. You can listen to them all here:

November 24, 2017

The amount of Mori spoken on my programme is still pretty small, so the idea that somehow people are being shut out because they dont know the language, I dont really think it stacks up. The idea is to encourage and normalise what is an official language of New Zealand, and a beautiful language.

According to the Mori Language Commission around 50,000 New Zealanders are fluent speakers of Te Reo.

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