Unlike some English speaking countries, New Zealand has two official languages: English and Maori. Declared an official language through the Maori Language Act 1987, Maori is the foundation language of New Zealand, the ancestral language of the indigenous people of New Zealand. It provides this country with a unique language identity in the rest of the world, as this is the only place where Maori is widely spoken.
Although English is the main language spoken, you will find many Maori words and phrases used in everyday life. For example, many roads, towns and cities are in Maori and it will be important to know how to pronounce Maori words correctly in order to understand or be understood by others when talking about these places. You will also see public signs posted in both Maori and English. Maori is often spoken in public events, meetings and forums, particularly when Maori are present. You may hear Maori spoken in lectures, sporting events and various other places during your stay in New Zealand. This is especially true if you get the opportunity to go to a marae, a Maori meetinghouse where ceremonies and other events take place.
Learning Maori opens up opportunities to meet, explore and appreciate Maori music, art, dance, sports and other important aspects of the New Zealand Maori culture, all of which makes New Zealand an interesting place to study.