Not Tu Meke of a challenge: Māori Language Week kicks off with a pesky Australian

Aiming to get New Zealanders to speak more te reo Māori than a native Australian bird, Augusto and the Māori Language Commission have issued a fairly easy seeming challenge to Kiwis. 

Perhaps it’s a playful take on the classic Australian / New Zealand rivalry, perhaps its because of Cockatoos can pick up phrases in a few days, perhaps, its because the pun Cocka Tumeke was just too good to pass up. Either way, colour me unsure as to why a native Australian bird was chosen for this Māori Language Week campaign.

Look, I’m not complaining, Cocka Tumeke has the flair and style to make it big as our next ‘New Zealand Celebrity’, and it is as orotiki (cute) as pie.

The campaign highlights how much even Kiwis’ struggle to pick up just a few te reo words, even simple ones that most of us should know.

It’s a fun play on a challenge, as professional bird trainers have lent a hand with the campaign, while Māori Language Week ambassadors, Pere Wihongi and Guyon Espiner also feature – attempting to teach “Cocka Tumeke” a few te reo Māori words. 

Ngahiwi Apanui, chief executive at the Māori Language Commission, clears up why the native bird was chosen to challenge the nation. 

“This campaign is a fun way of introducing the idea that everyone – even an Australian bird – can follow the advice ‘ahakoa iti, akona, kōrerotia – learn a little, use a little. Everyone is encouraged and welcome to use te reo Māori. To do so normalises te reo Māori and helps welcome it into all parts of our life”.

Augusto creative directors, Matt Sellars and Rich Robson, says the campaign is a fun poke at a very serious issue. 

“While this is a silly campaign that we’ve had a lot of fun creating, there is a pretty serious message at the heart of it. If we can simply give everyone a little nudge to put a little time aside to upskill their te reo this week, we’re moving forward as a nation”. 

I suppose it doesn’t matter who, or what is hawking our native language, as long as its being supported. Our readers encouraged to challenge themselves against this pesky Ozzie, so start incorporating a few te reo words into your day, should be easy as, bro.

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