Ka Ngaro Te Reo: Māori Language Under Siege in the Nineteenth Century

Hazel Petrie

Abstract


My early childhood was spent in my mother’s home area of London until, at the age of nine, my family moved to my father’s home town in Yorkshire.  It seemed only natural to me that the local people spoke with a different accent and used dialect words and unfamiliar expressions.  But I was shocked when, having been asked to read a piece from a book, my new teacher announced to the class that I spoke correctly while my thirty-plus classmates did not.  The ‘news’ that one language or form of language was superior to another had a profound and lasting impact on me — one that deepened when a classmate in my next school, in Auckland, was publicly castigated for using both the Māori and English forms of her name.  Those were, of course, just tiny pointers to a reality of much greater significance, but they and other memories resonated as I read Paul Moon’s new book Ka Ngaro te Reo: Māori Language Under Siege in the Nineteenth Century


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