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Languages in New Zealand

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There are various languages in New Zealand. English is the most common and a real official language, spoken by most individuals in the country. The two lawfully official languages are New Zealand Sign Language and Māori. Sign language is presently being used legally and in other lawful proceedings including in court and usage to government services.

The pre-European dwellers of the primary islands of the country all spoke Māori. Some of outlying islands and territories of the country have their own indigene languages like Cook Islands Maori (is the official language of the Cook Islands); Moriori language (was the language of the Chatham Islands); Niuean (is an official language of Niue); and Tokelaun (is the official language of Tokelau).

Māori came to the country as Eastern Polynesians navigating, probably, from the region of the Cook Islands or from the Society Islands. These Polynesian colonists arrived within 800 AD to 1300 AD. In the 1860s, the Māori became a nonage language in the shadow of the English which are spoken by missioners, colonists, gold searchers and dealers from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Lately, in the 19th century the colonial administrations of the country and its provinces presented an English mode school system for all New Zealanders. In 1880s, the government prohibited the use of Māori in schools to increase the numbers of Māori individuals fluent in English. In 1980s, Māori leaders started to distinguish the risk of losing their language, and led up Māori-language recovery-programs like the Kōhanga Reo movement (from infancy to school age) and Kura Kaupapa Māori (primary school program).

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