Te Mahi Kai – The language of food

This week is Māori Language Week, themed The Language of Food. What better way to engage the Nation than to create synergies between Te Reo Māori, one of our three official languages* (which only 4.7% of us can speak fluently), with the act of meal preparation and eating. It’s something that we can all relate to, be it having a love of food, a passion for creating our favourite dishes or the mere survival instinct that kicks in and forces us to eat.

New Zealanders are getting behind Māori language week in their own ways – Dr Pita Sharples led a celebrity cook-off at the Wellington launch; ‘boil-up’ is featured this week on some of our hospital menus and our television presenters are giving lessons in Te Reo Māori while we watch the weather – despite our struggles to figure out where they’re up to on the map. The Australian-owned Progressive Enterprises supermarket group (Countdown, Woolworths and Foodtown) is also getting behind Māori language week, providing Māori translations of traditional Kiwi recipes, measurements and shopping lists in Te Reo, and investing in Māori Language Week advertising. It’s encouraging to see the promotion of Te Reo Māori move beyond the traditional realm of Parliament and Education, towards a potentially more inclusive meeting ground like the supermarket.

This year’s Māori Language Week is teaching us a few things about successful communications. The food theme highlights the value of finding common ground and experiences, no matter what our background, ethnicity, or religious beliefs are. This week’s execution also reminds us to make use of less traditional avenues for reaching and effectively communicating with target audiences. As PR practitioners, we must remember that just as food is all about communication, communication is all about engaging our five senses – taste, smell, touch, sound and sight.

Our day jobs may be all about words, but as Māori Language Week shows us, we naturally communicate in a myriad of ways.

* New Zealand’s three official languages are English, Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language

Categories: Food and Nutrition Events

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