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Te wiki o te reo Māori: how brands are embracing the country’s native tongue this week

The theme of year’s Māori Language Week is, ‘Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori’, which is about strengthening New Zealanders’ use and knowledge of the native language. ‘Kia Kaha’ is now in common usage in New Zealand and the use this year’s theme reflects how languages are often spoken about as if they are people – talking about language health, strength and revitalisation.

This year’s Māori Language Week is hoped to be the most celebrated yet, with more organisations, companies and community groups getting involved than ever before. And it’s already proving to be true. Thousands of school kids, parents, organisations and government representatives marched in the Māori language parade in Wellington on Monday – the biggest turnout ever.

With so many brands getting involved, we asked TRA about what it means to be seen aligning with New Zealand culture. Partner Colleen Ryan shared her thoughts with us saying:

“There are a lot of headlines currently for or against the Nike support for Colin Kaepernick – is it brand purpose, woke washing or just a very good way of giving your brand a huge unpaid for media boost? Whichever school of thought you subscribe to the issue hangs on authenticity.

“And, from our work on New Zealand’s Kiwi codes we know that authenticity is a mantra that New Zealand brands will need to adopt during Maori language week. Being culturally on code in an authentic way is extremely powerful – it’s that unconscious recognition we feel when someone or something shows that they know us. So getting it right it very powerful, but so is getting it wrong.”



Creative agency Run has changed its name to the Māori translation, Oma, for the week. Run has been renamed Oma on all brand touch points, including website, social media and email communications.

The initiative was the agency’s way of embracing Māori Language Week and celebrating the culture and heritage of creative director and co-founder Raymond Otene McKay. McKay, who is of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu descent, says the initiative is part of the agency’s commitment to learning more te reo and incorporating it long-term.

“Although this is a small gesture, it is by no means a superficial one. Every New Zealander can help strengthen the Māori language and this was a small way we thought we could help.”

Along with the name change, a percentage from each new brief the agency receives this month will be donated Friendship House, an organisation helping those in need in Manukau.

Trade Me

Trade Me has also rebranded to celebrate Māori Language Week, changing its name to Tauhoko online. The company has also released te reo Māori words and phrases on its iOS app.

For last year’s Māori Language Week, 37 te reo words and phrases were added to the app, with more being added throughout the year. A further 51 will be released this week for users who have te reo Māori as their preferred language on their device. About 1500 people use the app in Māori, and Tauhoko is working to teach New Zealanders how to change their preferred language on their Apple devices.

Tauhoko head of mobile Nick Parfene says it’s important to celebrate te reo, and the company will continue to do so all year.

“It’s inspiring and humbling to learn a bunch of new Māori phrases – including the Māori name for Trade Me. We enlisted the help of Karena Kelly, our re consultant, to ensure we have accurate translations that keep the Trade Me tone.”

Te reo Māori phrases include ‘Hei mātakitaki’ (‘Watchlist); ‘He hokotanga tāpuitanga $1’ (‘$1 reserve auctions’); ‘Āku hokotanga atu’ (‘Items I’m selling); and ‘Tirohia ngā momo’ (‘Browse categories’).

Te reo Māori is not yet a supported language by Android.  


Stuff has rebranded as Puna, meaning a spring of water. It also has a deeper, allegorical meaning as a place of reflection and is used in the phrase ‘puna o te kī’, meaning a spring of profound words.

This week also marks a year since Puna introduced macrons to all Māori words online and in its newspapers. Over the course of the week, Puna’s coverage will explore how te reo Māori makes New Zealand unique, and looking at how Kiwis might talk in 2040.

The Dominion Post has reverted its masthead to its te reo name Te Upoko-o-te-Ika, which was introduced during this year’s Matariki celebrations. The Press has also changed its masthead to Te Matatika for the week.


The New Zealand Herald and NZME regional newspapers have changed their titles into te reo Māori for the week. It is also publishing video, print and digital content each day to encourage the use of te reo words.

NZME chief executive Michael Boggs says NZME is continuously doing its best to integrate te reo Māori into the company’s daily activities.

And fitting to week’s theme, The Whanganui Chronicle also announced that from this week, the ‘h’ will be included in its titles permanently.  

Over on radio, ZM, Flava and The Hits are all switching out their logos for the week to designs inspired by Māori artwork.

Outdoor advertising

New Zealand streets are set to get a dose of Māori as the outdoor media industry celebrates Māori Language Week with themed messages.

Over 280 digital out-of-home sites across the country will display 40 te reo Māori themed messages that will change each day to providing lessons on everyday words. Being on digital sites, the messages will also change according to time and location-based elements such as weather and traffic.

Outdoor Media Association NZ (OMANZ) general manager Derek Lindsay says it’s exciting to be able to leverage the industry’s out-of-home digital assets to bring te reo Māori to New Zealanders.

“The footprint of outdoor media provides exposure in most communities around the country and therefore gives us a unique opportunity to help raise the profile of te reo Māori and encourages wider use of the language in our daily lives.”

This outdoor media industry initiative partnered six key out-of-home owners, including OMANZ Members Adshel, oOH Media, QMS and APN Outdoor, as well as independent companies Go Media and Lumo.

The chief executive of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission, Ngahiwi Apanui, says the campaign is an important one.

“These are signs of our times, and our times are a new step towards an Aotearoa that values, uses and celebrates our indigenous language. Te reo Māori was the first language of business in New Zealand and the Outdoor Marketing Association of New Zealand is helping restore it to its pride of place in commerce.”

The te reo Māori messages will appear on out-of-home sites in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Palmerston North, Masterton, Otaki, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Embracing the language

Maori Television

Maori Television has hit the road this week with the Reo Town series, exploring how five different New Zealand cities embrace te reo Māori. Every day, Kiri Ririnui will be trying to get as many people to speak a word, phrase or mihi in te reo Māori to camera within one hour. Reo Town is visiting Wellington, Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei.


Spark and Te Aka Māori Dictionary have launched Kupu (which directly translates to ‘word’), an interactive mobile app that helps people learn te reo Māori translations by exploring objects around them. The app was a collaboration between Spark, Te Aka, Colenso BBDO and Google.

Spark NZ@SparkNZ

We’re excited to launch Kupu, the new app that turns your photos into te reo Māori. Here’s what @Tikidub had to say about Kupu. Download it for free at http://kupu.co.nz 35812:21 PM – Sep 9, 2018Twitter Ads info and privacy179 people are talking about this

The app is free to download, and uses image recognition to identify what the object in the user-uploaded image is before providing the te reo Māori translation.

Lisa Paraku, Spark business manager – Māori, says Spark wants to get more people engaged and using te reo Māori every day.

“We see the Māori language and culture as special and unique to New Zealand, so we want to play a small role in helping te reo Māori prosper through the use of digital platforms.”

Senior lecturer at AUT and Māori language researcher at Te Ipukarea (the National Māori Language Institute), Dr Dean Mahuta, was a key advisor on the project and worked alongside Te Aka Māori Dictionary and Spark to ensure Kupu showcases te reo Māori correctly.


Vodafone New Zealand and the Māori Language Commission have joined forces in an agreement to spread te reo Māori usage. Vodafone has launched an app, Hika Vodafone, for staff to make sure te reo is used on a daily basis between employees as well as when serving customers.

Vodafone NZ chief executive Russell Stanners says the agreement is an important step in ensuring Vodafone’s commitment to New Zealand’s roots is strengthened.

“We’re delighted to be part of this Mahi Tahi agreement with the commission. Vodafone’s purpose is to connect for a better future. This commitment will strengthen our people’s connection to Aotearoa, the communities and customers we serve.”


BNZ is celebrating Māori Language Week by introducing te reo Māori for customers using mobile or online banking. Words like utua (pay) and penapena (save) are incorporated into the online banking experience to raise awareness and knowledge of the language.


Westpac NZ has launched a social media campaign encouraging customers to pronounce New Zealand place names correctly, with #Sayitright. Workers from different branches are pronouncing the names of their locations, such as Kaikoura and Taumarunui, with the literal translation.

#Sayitright reminds us of #Sayittika (Say it Tika), by Vodafone and Google Maps that saw them team up to get Maori place names correctly pronounced on the map service. 

ASB Bank

ASB Bank is celebrating by making changes to its website to include te reo Māori, as well as using special guests to introduce a new te reo phrase each day on social media. All social media posts are being written in te reo as well as English.


ANZ’s Māori Language Week celebrations are ongoing, with free te reo Māori lessons each Monday until 8 October. Classes cover the Māori alphabet and pronunciation, as well as learning a karakia and how to say a mihi.


Facebook New Zealand has jumped on board Māori Language Week by posting a te reo Māori phrasebook of common technology words and phrases. Created by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the phrasebook teaches a word for each day in September.

Words include ahokore (wi-fi), kapomata (screenshot), pūatahanga (emoji) ad kiriāhua (selfie).


MetService has brought back its location translations for the week, with place names showing in te reo Māori on the site’s main map. MetService New Zealand is also posting daily weather updates on its Facebook page, incorporating te reo.

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