Defence Force embraces Māori language week

A haka is performed to welcome a new Defence Force contingent to Solomon Islands.

A haka is performed to welcome a new Defence Force contingent to Solomon Islands (MC09-0081-354)

22 July 2010

The New Zealand Defence Force Māori Cultural Group, based at Ohakea ,will visit schools in Bulls and Feilding as part of Māori Language Week, which runs from 26 July to 2 August.

Air Force Māori Cultural Advisor, Warrant Officer Wal Wallace says, “The programme will involve performing a couple of items but will mostly involve interaction through Reo based games and activities. The group will not be large but the activities will be fun and educational.”

The school visits are one of a number of Defence Force activities planned for Māori Language Week. The Defence Force will be encouraging its personnel throughout the country to use Māori language as much as possible during the week, particularly using this year’s theme - Te Mahi Kai – the language of food.

Over the week personnel at the Devonport Naval Base will be given the chance to take part in a number of activities including kaikorero (speeches), Iron Māori – games based on Māori legends related to food, Te Reo classes, fry bread lessons, and raranga (weaving) lessons. The activities will culminate with a hangi.

There will also be a Māori cultural “information day” within the Defence House building where defence personnel can view taonga (artefacts) up close as the Headquarters based Māori Cultural Group demonstrate various elements of kapahaka.

Currently, the Defence Force has 12, 478 full time Service men and women and civilian staff. Of this total about 15.75% identify as Māori. 

Defence Force Māori Cultural Advisor Jerald Twomey says, “We are encouraging all Defence Force personnel to use Te Reo as much as possible during Māori Language Week, especially in relation to meal times and food.

Tikanga Māori is an integral part of life in the Defence Force with each of the Service having an advisor for Māoritanga. These advisors provide guidance on protocols, ceremonial event management, kapa haka and Te Reo Māori. Contingents deployed overseas regularly welcome their replacements with a haka powhiri, which give a distinctive ‘kiwi’ aspect to these occasions.

“The Defence Force has a Te Reo Māori language policy which supports several servicemen and/or servicewoman attending Te Reo Māori training through various institutions each year,” W/O Twomey says.


There are currently 908 New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed on 14 peacekeeping operations, UN missions and defence exercises across 10 countries.

For further information please contact Ally Clelland, Te Rōpū Kōrero ō Te Ope Kātua/Defence Communications Group, 04 496 0273 or 021 569 130.


This page was last reviewed on 19 January 2011.