[lg policy] Katerina Mataira

Bernard Spolsky bspolsky at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 21 17:12:17 UTC 2011

Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira, awarded the Linguapax award in 2009 and made a
Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her service to the
Maori language only a few weeks before her death last week, was without
doubt one of the major contributors to the regeneration of the Maori language
in New Zealand, having been actively involved for more than thirty years.

Author, artist and academic Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira (a member of the
Ngäti Porou tribe) was the recipient of the prestigious 2001 Te Tohu
Tiketike a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Exemplary Award.

Katerina played a crucial role in the renaissance of te reo Mäori (the Maori
language) through the development of Te Ataarangi (an organization
established in the 1970s and responsible for the teaching of the language to
thousands of adults) and through her writing.

Among her many achievements Katerina was described as the founder of Kura
Kaupapa Maori, having co-authored Te Aho Matua – the philosophy and charter
for the Mäori philosophy schools which are known for their immersion
programs in the language.

She was also the author of many books in Maori.

Born in 1932, in 1996, Dame Katerina's lifetime contribution to te reo Mäori
was recognised by Waikato University when she was awarded an Honorary
Doctorate. Up to her death, she remained active in working for the revival
of the Maori language.
I was privileged to attend the 2009 annual meeting of Te Ataarangi, and was
greatly impressed by her spiritual leadership of what has remained, since
its founding, a grassroots movement for language revitalization. Her role
was unique, and deserving of recognition as one of those working for the
preservation of endangered languages.

Bernard Spolsky bspolsky at gmail.com
Professor emeritus, Bar-Ilan University
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