Community Scoop

What was that you said?

mothertongueposterNicola Sutton

Chief Executive

English Language Partners New Zealand


Maintaining a mother tongue matters. It is an important step in language learning for children and plays a huge role in the development of personal, social and cultural identity. And, in turn, knowing our identity is important to maintaining wellbeing. This all seems highly pertinent on Waitangi Day where spoken te reo Maori is a powerful reminder of identity and its connection with language.

A growing focus on the importance of language development in children and the need to encourage families to use the language they speak is more critical than ever. To this end, educators from across the country have written a strategy for languages in education with bold goals including every young New Zealander learning and using te reo Maori as of right throughout their schooling, and where the use of heritage languages (or mother tongue) is supported and strengthened.

This year is International Year of Indigenous Languages, and a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand’s diversity of people, cultures and languages.

To raise awareness of this diversity, and to get people talking about their languages, a poster has been created with the phrase “Our people, our cultures, our languages” in 29 languages, including Maori, NZ Sign Language and English. The poster’s design features flowers from around the world that are significant to many of Aotearoa’s ethnic communities. Why not print a copy to hang on the wall where your community (clients, staff, students, families) meet; let it spark new or deeper conversations between people about the languages spoken in your ‘community’ and the cultures behind those languages.


Get an e-version of the poster by emailing

Download the Strategy for Languages in Education in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019-2033


This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

 ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

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