The first kōhanga reo set up at Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, is visited in 1985 by Chief Judge Eddie Durie, then Waitangi Tribunal Chairperson, and Paul Temm QC. Photograph by John Nicholson, Dominion Post Collection, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
'If an endangered bird is worth saving...'
In 1986, the Waitangi Tribunal heard the Te Reo Māori Claim. It was a 'generic claim', one that affected most Māori, rather than one particular hapū or iwi.
Claimants argued that the language was a taonga (treasure) which the Crown was obliged to protect under the Treaty's second article, and had failed to do so. They said that if endangered birds were worth saving, so was te reo Māori, the life force of mana Māori.
Although it had historical roots, the claim's focus was on the protection and promotion of te reo Māori, not only for Māori but for the whole nation.