We have met some challenges in naming specimens. In particular, the team were challenged naming the Horse Mussel Atrina zelandica, a bivalve that has been given seven different names. Similarly, the Willow-leaf Hebe Hebe salicifolia has been given three different names. So far, we have selected just one term and entered it into the database. But is choosing just one of many terms the right approach for the rich language of te reo Māori?
Image: An Atrina zelandica, or horse mussel; MA121309.
Although far less visible, this mahi is an important way of increasing the presence of te reo Māori at our Museum and within the Collections. It wouldn't be possible without all the expertise involved in this kaupapa, from the Knowledge Holders, scientists, database technicians, IT specialists to the public… it takes a village. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori could change to te reo Māori every day.
As a person born and raised in New Caledonia, where French is the only official language, I see the progress made by New Zealanders to be well ahead of the rest of the world. Te reo Māori has been an official language since the 1987 Māori Language Act, which also established a commission to protect and promote te reo. Today, te reo has become embedded in our daily life. It is now commonplace to start an email with ‘kia ora’, even if the email is destined to an overseas recipient.
I have learnt of the hardship Māori people experienced when they were punished for speaking te reo Māori. When I see the progress of my children starting to use te reo Māori daily, I am relieved to see it is not too late; this beautiful language is not going to disappear.
Background image: A hururoa, or Atrina zelandica; MA121309; © Auckland Museum CC BY