Stuff marks Matariki with te reo Māori masthead

The Dominion Post is running a teo reo Māori masthead to celebrate the Māori New Year. 

The changeup to the masthead was reported online today in an article by The Dominion Post editor Eric Janssen titled ‘Together we stand: why The Dominion Post has a te reo Māori masthead’. He explained the change coincides with today’s launch of the Wellington City Council Te Reo Māori policy and tomorrow’s start of Matariki.

“The council’s policy aims to enhance mutual understanding and bilingualism, and we support that wholeheartedly. Our support is not, as some may claim, a political statement. It is simply affirmation that we are all citizens of this great city, region and land – and getting to know each other a little better can only foster better understanding and tolerance.”

According to Janssen, the newspaper’s full title – Te Pūrongo o te Upoko-o-te-Ika – translates loosely as ‘the report from the head of the fish’ (of Māui), referencing back to the myth that the North Island was a fish pulled up by Māui. 

The title was created by the council’s iwi partnerships, Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa.

On social media, the reaction to the teo reo Māori masthead was predominately positive, while some saw it as a token effort.

In response to questions asking if it could be a permanent change, The Dominion Post‘s Twitter account said the masthead will run for three weeks through Matariki finishing 7 July, “with options beyond that being considered”.

The change comes as other media outlets have faced both positive and negative criticism for using te reo Māori, such as Radio New Zealand whose staff are encouraged to use te reo in their broadcasts. 

RNZ head of digital Glen Scanlon told StopPress te reo is an important part of Aotearoa’s culture.

“We are New Zealand’s public broadcaster…we should definitely be encouraging people to know more about it and sharing what we can.”

He said the pushback—criticism for pronunciation and frustration in not being able to understand—was an opportunity for RNZ to become an educator, something it’s doing with translations on its website.

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