Unbelievable to think that at one point in our not so distant past, a young Māori woman named Naida Glavish was reprimanded by management for daring to use 'Kia Ora' on the phone. The reason given was that 'Kia Ora' was a non-standard expression. When she persisted, she was threatened with dismissal. An absurd thought today.
However her 'transgression' sparked discussion about the use and worth of Te Reo Māori and finally when it became an accepted greeting, the phone lines were jammed with people wanting to talk to the "Kia Ora ' lady.
Its humbling to think that two simple words 'Kia Ora' and a young Māori woman's determination to use her own language, paved the way for us as Māori and as a nation.
Greetings and farewells are awesome confidence builders when you are a learner. Initially there is always the fear your greeting in Māori invites others to speak 'whole' sentences in māori back to you (shock horror). Never be afraid of another persons excitement to hear the reo coming out of your mouth. Letting others know you're a learner is fine. Start opening yourself to the new experiences saying Kia Ora will bring you.
English greetings and farewells are easy to replace with their Maori equivalents in everyday conversation. How many times in your day do you greet and farewell people, in person? in text messages? snapchats? tweets? facebook posts? emails? Simply replacing Hello with Kia Ora will increase your percentage of use of Te Reo Maori exponentially!
The kaupapa for this years Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Sep 11 - 17) is Kia Ora te Reo. Not only does it celebrate the importance of this now very kiwi greeting, it also conveys the true meaning which is literally to be health, be life, be vitality. The new Maori Language Act 2016 focusses on revitalisation of Te Reo Māori so this years kaupapa highlights the importance of the reo's worth in today's society and opens more discussion on the role it will have in our nations future.
And so fittingly , the humble Kia Ora, once considered a non standard expression is now the key message in the revitalisation of te reo Māori and also two of the most important Maori words you will ever learn and use.
Start incorporating these different mihimihi into your converstations, phone calls, facebook posts, emails, letters, tweets!