Youth passionate about te reo swarmed Auckland's One Tree Hill on Thursday, giving adults hope for Māori language's future.
More than 1000 school students joined a hikoi, organised by the council, to celebrate Māori Language Week.
Rutherford College's Manaia Lawrence, 16, is determined to get fluent. She says her parents "never got the chance". She and schoolmates Tiana Hetet-Tangariki and Kaya Kaipo-Marshall, both 17, sang waiata as they waited for the march to the summit to get started.
Hetet-Tangariki said her generation was "hungry to learn" te reo. She sees it as something to be passionate about, a way to learn about self and history.
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The girls' parents encouraged their kids to embrace their heritage, the trio said. They were all eager to be part of a Māori revival.
Rugged up against a brisk wind, groups broke out into spontaneous haka and sing-a-longs. The vibe was festive. Placards reading 'Kia Kaha Te Reo!' and 'He Taonga Te Reo' started waving as the Walk the Talk hikoi began snaking its way up Maungakiekie.
"Tahi, rua, toru, whā, rima, ono..." counted a teacher, trying to keep her rambunctious 8-year-olds in check.
Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill is a site of historical, ancestral and cultural significance to the 13 iwi and hapū of Auckland.
Parents and pre-schoolers from Playcentre - Te Whanau Tupu Ngātahi - were marching too, with prams and scooters. Mum-of-four Ellen Bowen had her 4-year-old twins in tow.
From Germany herself, Bowen said she loved Playcentre's "strong commitment" to New Zealand's biculturalism.
She enjoyed seeing her already bilingual children catching on to a third language.
"I think it's just great! Learning languages is good for the brain, it broadens the mind, and it's inclusive - so helps our children be more inclusive in general," she said.
Another Playcentre mum, Bronwyn Hughes, was accompanying her 4-year-old son Cohen up the hill. A non-Māori family, they hadn't spoken any te reo until joining Playcentre.
"We've embraced it now and I'm really grateful," said Hughes.
"We use words and phrases like 'I need to go to the wharepaku' and 'horoi o ringa ringa' at home all the time."
Luke Tai-Rakena, 25, said he had noticed "interest, passion and support for te reo" had grown in young New Zealanders since he was at school.
He's a cultural advisor at the Manukau Institute of Technology and joined the hikoi to help celebrate the language he promotes on campus.
"It's so encouraging to see the future of Aotearoa loving loving te reo! That gives me hope for its survival," he said.