A popular New Zealand chocolate brand is helping to revitalise te reo, the official Māori language, one block at a time.
To celebrate Māori Language Week, Whittaker’s revealed it was introducing special edition packaging for one of its most popular blocks, which has gone down a treat with Kiwi shoppers.
From August 22, the packaging of Dreamy Milk blocks will be translated into te reo to read Miraka Kirīmi.
Matt Whittaker, the brand’s chief operating officer, said the family-run business hoped the label would contribute to “revitalising” te reo, which is considered endangered and has only 127,000 native speakers worldwide according to the Endangered Languages Project.
Whittaker’s announced it would translate the packaging of its Dreamy Milk chocolate bar into te reo for Māori Language Week. Image: Twitter
“As a family-owned business that makes all of its world-class chocolate at its one factory in Porirua New Zealand, we are proud to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week),” Mr Whittaker said.
“The label has been translated into te reo with support and guidance from our friends at the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.
“Our hope is that the label contributes to revitalising te Reo in New Zealand, and we hope chocolate lovers in New Zealand enjoy a block of Miraka Kirīmi with their friends and whānau (extended family).”
Though there has been some opposition to the move, including right-wing commentator Cam Slater, it has been greatly outweighed by support.
Those who were upset took to social media to claim the wrapper was a “step too far”, with others responding that they would buy extra bars to annoy the “racist haters”.
Huge shoutout for Te Taura Whiri for continuing your mahi to normalise our reo, the latest being the Whittaker’s Miraka Kirīmi.
Thank you both for sticking your necks out on the line while racists and bigots slam you from all directions with hate and disgusting comments.
— Te Matahiapo (@HynesSafari) August 16, 2022
“Whittaker’s, you’re a class act. Love this,” one fan wrote on Instagram.
“Why are people mad about te reo chocolate wrappers? I think it’s sick AF. In fact I will be stockpiling the te reo Whittaker’s bars and keeping the outer wrappers in perfect condition so I can buy new bars and replace the outer layer with a te reo one every time,” another shared on Twitter.
“I particularly like Whittaker’s Miraka Kirimi and am thrilled by the chance to mark Maori language week by eating chocolate,” a third said.
Māori presenter and content creator Sonny Ngatai dubbed the decision as “awesome”, adding that he hoped it would prompt more brands to use te reo on products in supermarkets.
Professor Rawinia Higgins, the Māori Language Commissioner, also welcomed Whittaker’s move, adding that those who claimed it was woke or a “step too far” don’t realise that te reo is already an accepted part of New Zealand’s identity.
“For those who have complained that this is a step too far for our country: The reality is that the rest of New Zealand has already taken that step,” she told Stuff NZ.
“We know that eight in 10 of us see te reo as part of our identity as a Kiwi while one in three of us can speak more than a few words of Māori.
“Young New Zealanders are helping to drive change. They are not threatened when they see or hear te reo; they see te reo as absolutely normal.”
This article first appeared on OverSixty.