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Māori language facts for kids

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Native to New Zealand
Region Polynesia
Ethnicity Māori people
Native speakers (60,000 cited 1991)
157,000 New Zealand residents claim they can converse in Māori about everyday things (2006 census)
Language family
Writing system Latin (Māori alphabet)
Māori Braille
Official status
Official language in New Zealand
Regulated by Māori Language Commission

Māori, also known as te reo ("the language"), is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Since 1987, it has been one of New Zealand's official languages. It is closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian. The number of speakers of the language has been in sharp decline since the end of World War II, but a language revitalization effort halted its extinction, and the language has been undergoing a revival since about 2015.

A national census undertaken in 2013 reported that about 149,000 people, or 3.7 per cent of the New Zealand population, could hold a conversation in Māori about everyday things. As of 2015, 55 per cent of Māori adults reported some knowledge of the language; but of these speakers, only 64 per cent use Māori at home and only around 50,000 people can speak the language "very well" or "well".

There was originally no native writing system for Māori. Missionaries brought the Latin alphabet with them around 1814, and linguist Samuel Lee worked with chief Hongi Hika to systematize the written language in 1820. The resultant phonetic spellings were remarkably successful, and written Māori has changed little since. Māori distinguishes between long and short vowels; the long vowels are usually written with a macron.

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Māori language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.