A New Zealand schoolboy’s video complaining about poor pronunciation of Maori words proved a hit online.
Finnian Galbraith, 15, says in his Youtube video that many people in New Zealand have stopped making the effort to say Maori words and names properly, which is disrespectful and means the “beautiful” Maori culture could eventually be lost.
The video – made in a filmmaking class at his school in Paraparaumu – has had more than 55,000 views on Youtube, in two days and more than 26,000 times on a Facebook page.
In his video, Finnian says that every day on TV and on the radio “so many of us are pronouncing Maori names and words completely wrong”, because of a lack of effort.
Culture is “priceless and something that should be embraced, and something we as a country should be proud of”, he says.
Common Te Reo Maori words used in English
Te Reo Maori, the language of New Zealand’s indigenous people, is an official national language, and many Maori words – like kia ora (meaning hello) – have found their way into common English usage.
An English-speaking New Zealander might greet someone coming to their house with a “kia ora” (hello) and a “haere mai” (welcome). The guest might bring a “koha” or gift, which the host would no doubt say was “ka pai” (good).
The guest might leave after dinner with a full “puku” (belly).
“It is part of all New Zealanders’ culture,” says Finnian. “If we lose the language – the pillar of tradition – the whole culture will be weakened and a whole lot of history and knowledge will be lost without the language.”
Finnian’s posts have received a string of praise on both Facebook and Youtube since they were posted earlier this week, with many calling him a credit to New Zealand and suggesting he has a future in politics.
“Kapai, young man,” said Pettigrew PK on Facebook, using the Maori word for “good”, while Cherry Christian offered “tautoko” (support), saying that “the more languages we know, the better we understand cultures and communication is enhanced”.
Some comments, however, accused him of racism towards white New Zealanders, and said Maori is a dying language not worth protecting.
Finnian told the BBC he believes more needs to be done encourage use of the Maori language.
“Only 4% of people in New Zealand speak Maori fluently and that number needs to grow,” he said.
He said he had had no idea that his video would have quite such a reaction in New Zealand.
“I actually expected bad comments and surprised at how positive it’s been,” he said.