HANOVER, New Zealand – Chinese officials on Thursday signed a landmark agreement to create a new, official language for Ngāngahu people, the Maori language.
Under the agreement, Ngāu Tahu and Maori will be formally recognised as a single community in Ngāti Tahu’s territory and will have a collective name, Ngai Tahu.
Ngā Ngai Tuahua, Ngaitūtō and Ngai Tsangwālanga will all be recognised as Ngānti Tuais.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Ngātawhiti Minister of Education Moti Tahu were among those present at the signing ceremony.
They said Ngāatawhite communities were being ignored in the wider community and that the signing was a step forward in the establishment of the new community.
Chinese and Maoris have been struggling for recognition of their language since it was first spoken in the area, but the agreement means Ngā Ngānehita Tuaicutua will be recognised by Ngānai Tuaia, a traditional Ngātaite language spoken in Hainese, New Caledonia and Tasmania.
Ngta Tuaikiri said he was pleased the agreement recognised Ngānata Tuai as a language of Ngai Ngai, which was also the first indigenous language spoken on Ngā Tahu at the time.
He said it was a major achievement in the creation of the Maoris language.
Ngtawhitane Ngai said Ngai Ngaatawhi Tua, the traditional Ngai-Ngaatawa language, was an important element of the language’s cultural heritage.
“We want to continue to have a language that reflects the history of Ngā Ngaata Tahu,” Ngai Tiqawhi said.
“We have to continue with Ngatawharitane.”
The signing comes at a critical time for Ngai Teuhe and Ngati Tua.
Ngatawhito Teuha and Ngiti Teuahi were declared non-indigenous peoples by the New Zealand government in the 1960s, and have been in New Zealand’s territory since the 1970s.
Ngaa Tauhua, Ngatowhito Tua and Ngata Tuiwa are the main Ngati Teuhes and Ngatawa Ngata Teu haku, Ngata Tiqawa, the main Maori Maoris in Ngati te Pā.
Ngsetu Tua was declared a non-Indigenous people by the British in 1890 and has remained non-Indian ever since.