If we must wait for the perfect circumstances to speak or sing te reo, we may as well sign the language’s death certificate
My sisters and I are the first generation in almost 50 generations of our family who didn’t grow up speaking te reo Māori as a first language. At first, that fact seems startling – a dramatic rupture from our past and the language that gives form to it. We are only three generations removed from ancestors who were Māori-speaking monoglots, ordering their lives and their world in a language almost foreign to their 21st-century descendants.
But this break between the language our ancestors spoke and the language we speak – English – is the typical Māori experience: only one in five Māori can hold a conversation in their ancestral language, and in the past three national surveys this number has fallen. That makes us anglophones a firm majority in our Indigenous populace.