Te Reo Maori: Maori language and the struggle to survive

Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Vol 8, Number 1, p.3
The deadly effects of colonial policies and practices have left us, as Maori, with a legacy of on-going struggle, to protect and to maintain control over our own cultural definition and authenticity; who we are, what we believe, what we value and what we practice. We are confronted daily with the contradiction of being strangers in our own land. It is a contradiction which many Maori live and deal with in the course of their every day activities and experiences. Our model of being bicultural and bilingual, espouses the notion of two cultures existing side by side (yet independently) in our heads. This perception ignores the reality that for the most part, one of these ‘cultures’ actually exists within the parameters of the other and that for Maori culture to maintain its independent ‘sovereignty’, a struggle which has political (as well as psychological) ramifications is involved. This paper examines some of the processes by which Maori have struggled to preserve their cultural authenticity and cultural sovereignty despite the powerful counteractive influence of colonisation.