Hawai’ians natives inspired to learn language by Māori

“The language lives because of the people. If the people aren’t using the language, then the language has died”.

When Līhau Gouveia travelled to Aotearoa from Hawai’i he became inspired to learn his native language.

His grandmother had been part of a generation of Hawaiians who had been punished for speaking it and Gouveia was determined to be part of the efforts to revitalise Ōlelo Hawai’i..

“...my grandma grew up speaking Hawaiian but was punished for speaking Hawaiian at school. Just seeing that shame and burden that she had… and that kind of inspired me to continue to learn the language.” he says.

The push to crush Ōlelo Hawai’i meant by 1985, the Hawaiian language was on the verge of extinction with just 32 people able to speak it.

But a revitalisation is underway, with younger generations being encouraged to speak the language, and teachers using novel ways to reach people using music and the arts.

The revival of te reo Māori here in Aotearoa has provided a source of inspiration and connection for educators in Hawai’i who are pushing ahead with their goal to encourage young people to keep speaking, no matter how big or small, so young people can see the beauty and importance of the language.

“For us here in Hawai’i and for those in Aotearoa, it’s super important for us to make sure we recognise those connections,”.

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

More stories:

The online movement inspiring rangatahi to take control of their money

Research shows rangatahi Māori are driven by creating financial security for their whānau and hapū.

Does Invercargill deserve the title of ‘NZ’s Shittest Town’?

“It kind of sucks here, but at least we’re not Gore.”

These women share their breast cancer journey

Wāhine Māori are 1.4 times more likely to die from breast cancer than non - Māori.