Record high queries about broadcasters' te reo Māori use

The Broadcasting Standards Authority received a record-high number of queries about the use of te reo Māori on-air this year.

Most years it only receives around three or four, but this year it received nearly 80.

"Most of the people are simply saying they don't like the use of te reo on-air, it's as simple as that," BSA Chief Executive Glen Scanlon said.

"Mainly, I think it's just that te reo is more prevalent, the use is more prevalent, and some people find that challenging."

The objections are something RNZ's Midday presenter Mani Dunlop is familiar with.

"I was warned that that was going to happen but, for me, it's about the kaupapa, it's about making sure that our reo is always heard."

The Māori Language Commission Chief Executive, Ngahiwi Apanui, said disruptions caused by the pandemic are making people lash out.

"People don't react to change very well. When there's uncertainty in peoples lives, and Covid has added is the big layer here, it's easier to lash out, it's easier to get angry," chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui said.

"It's easier to look for things that may not have gotten you that wound up and get wound up over them. Te reo is one of those things."

But he said research it commissioned this year suggests more New Zealanders than ever value the language.

"My feeling is that this is about people being more organised in getting their message across rather than the percentage of people against te reo increasing."

For a long time iwi radio and other Māori media did the heavy lifting when it came to revitalising te reo.

"What has changed in the 20 years is that those so-called mainstream organisations have realised hey part of us being New Zealanders is te reo Māori," Apanui said.

"It's that thing that Nelson Mandela said, you speak to someone in their language you speak to their heart. And every time that happens my heart hears it."

The BSA stopped accepting complaints about te reo use this year.

"Te reo is one of New Zealand's national languages, its use is enshrined in law, it's encouraged, so it's protected," Glen Scanlon said.

Mani Dunlop said the backlash only encouraged her to use it more.

"It's about pushing it more in order for it to be so normalised so that when people hear it, it's not stilted. It's just the way it is."

1News' website has a te reo Māori glossary to help people understand some of the phrases used in its bulletins.