5 (beginner-friendly!) ways to have a reo Māori Christmas


Christmas means different things to different whānau and communities. For us, it's definitely A Big Deal with a huge emphasis on whānau and kai. Some of my happiest memories are being at my grandparents' house for Christmas, eating steamed pudding and running around with my cousins!

On our te reo Māori journey, we've tried to think about the kaupapa that we love, and put te reo there. Not only is it way, way easier for both tamariki and pakeke to remember new things when you're doing something you love, it also creates positive associations with te reo. If your whānau love Christmas, it's the perfect opportunity.

These 5 simple tips can bring te reo Māori into your Christmas celebrations, no matter how much or how little you've learned so far!




Listen to Christmas music in te reo.


We have all been #blessed by Pere Wihongi's "Pere Kirihimete" in 2021. Stan Walker has also just released a Christmas single, and Miasey Rika did a Christmas album named TIRA a few years back.

The Waiata Anthems albums and this Waiata Reo Māori playlist are also great background music for your summer bbq!

You'll find more goodies here & there if you search up "Kirihimete" on Spotify!




Prepare some key words & phrases.


Think of a few key things you'd like to be able to say in Māori on Christmas Day, and look up the words or phrases (or ask a friend for help). A good tip is to think what you say often in English, and find the way of expressing that in te reo.

You could also print the Christmas and holiday phrases made by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (or just write them onto pieces of paper) and stick them to your walls, cupboard doors, tēpu kai - wherever you will see them! This way it's easier to make the effort to say those kupu or phrases during the day. You might also like to check out their rorerore (bbq) and kauhoe (swimming) resources!

If you're not used to using muh te reo at home, small and simple is the way to go. This makes it more likely you'll acheive your goal, and less likely you'll be overwhelmed. Once you've got those down pat, you can add more! And that's how language learning happens :)




Read pukapuka reo Māori on Christmas Eve.


We love the Christmas Eve tradition of pānui pukapuka. I usually make my kids a hot chocolate and snuggle up on the couch. It's a great way to calm down all that Hana Kōkō adrenaline while still doing something festive!

Thankfully there are more and more Christmas books being produced in te reo Māori.

You can check out our Kirihimete titles here, or take the list to your local library and see if they have them in for you!

(For the best beginner-friendly books, we suggest the Te Reo Singalong Christmas pukapuka - one is the Nativity story and the other is Santa themed.)




Tuku karakia.


Find a karakia mō te kai that feels right for you and your whānau - long or short, flash or simple - and say it together before your hākari. There are lots online if you haven't learned any yet.

If Christmas is a religious celebration for you, see if you can track down te reo versions of your favourite prayers, or even get your hands on a te reo Māori bible to share the birth of Ihu Karaiti with your whānau in te reo.




Give te reo Māori gifts.


While Christmas isn't all about the presents, for our whānau it's a special time to mihi to everyone who's an important part of our life. We love selecting koha for our kaiako at kōhanga and kura especially - wanting them to enjoy their whānau time, too, and know how much we have appreciated their mahi and aroha for our tamariki.

There are loads of Christmas gifts in te reo now. Check out the kāri tākaro and kēmu hou Pakiaka (think bananagrams, but te reo) from Maimoa Creative; Huia Publishers make te reo Māori books for adults as well as tamariki; Illustrated Publishing has also just brought out a beginner-friendly Wharewhare (Bingo), Tukau Legacy is one of many pakihi now doing kākahu with te reo slogans; and Tākaro Tribe & Pipi Mā have te reo Māori speaking dolls. You might even want to koha language learning books - like Māori At Home by Scotty Morrison or Mai i te Kākano by Hēni Jacob. And of course there is much, much more.

Purchasing taonga reo Māori also supports the Māori economy and invests in our language. Win/win!




Rūmaki reo


If you have been learning te reo for a wee while, you might like to try a rūmaki reo on Christmas Day!

Those of you who have done whānau language planning will be familiar with this! It basically means choosing a specific time, activity, or context where you speak only Māori.

Some ideas for a rūmaki reo Kirihimete:

- Wā kai (mealtime)

- Wā hura taonga (opening presents)

- Kēmu whānau (whānau board games or sports).

Just like #2, this one benefits from some preparation - so think together as a whānau what might suit, and get your words and phrases ready on cards or paper in case you need a reminder!



Kia kaha te reo Māori, kia pai anō te Kirihimete me te Wā o Hineraumati ki a tātou katoa!

Kia Ūkaipō Anō te Reo!

Kāinga | Te Mātāwai

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