Stuff: Remembering the battle to get recognition for te reo Māori

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OPINION: There’s an iconic black and white photo of the 1980 Māori Language protest march to parliament, taken just as the marchers turn into Willis St from Mercer St.

It’s been raining and marchers are wearing coats and jackets, a few clutch umbrellas and others hold banners. One woman is walking with her arms crossed as she gazes up Willis St. A young girl with her raincoat hood pulled on tight looks ahead warily, a young man catches someone’s eye. Bystanders stop and stare.

A sole Māori warden precedes the march, her hands clasped in front of her, and her black handbag at her side. Perhaps the most powerful thing about the photo are the faces of the people marching down the main street of our city calling on their government to recognise te reo Māori as an official language in its own country. From the late rangatira Amster Reedy and resolute Keri Kaa at the front, to the marchers at the very back, their faces are solemn, serious. Determined.

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