Tēnā koutou katoa

During my work as Paeārahi Strategic Lead for Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui I noticed that the Māori language used in the mental health, addiction and disability sectors is occasionally wrong, often outdated or sometimes just doesn’t exist. Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean.

  • Is it more appropriate to use ‘tangata whaiora’, ‘tangata whai ora’, ‘tāngata whai ora’ or ‘tāngata whai i te ora’?
  • Is the term ‘hauā’ which focuses on the legs and translates as ‘cripple’ or ‘lame’ appropriate? And does it cover all disabilites?
  • What is the Māori word for schizophrenia? Do we need one?
  • What is the Māori word for alzheimer's?
  • What is a consistent Māori term for addiction?
  • Is there a Māori word for methamphetamine?
  • Kāpō is blind. What is vision impaired?

These are just a few examples.

With the contemporary appetite for using te reo properly; correctly and with respect, the Te Reo Hāpai project is researching and, where appropriate, creating 200 Māori words and terms that adequately and accurately reflect the best use of Te Reo Māori in the mental health, addiction and disability sectors in 2016 and into the future. This will involve a recovery focus, a strengths base and non-judgemental and distigmatising words in te reo.

For guidance, an advisory group has been formed including some incredibly influential leaders in their respective sectors. They are Moe Milne, Nigel Ngahiwi, Hingatū Thompson and Professor Sir Mason Durie.

This initiative is ground-breaking and exciting. It requires real engagement with iwi, organisations and individuals to create an opportunity for Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui to demonstrate leadership and implement a project which can help shape the direction for Māori language in our sectors and assist to embed principles of rising to the challenge.