Indigenous languages the new cultural frontier for Preston Campbell


“When you hear other people speak their language, it’s not envy but I’m so happy for them, the fact they can do that. Sometimes I wish I could speak my language just like them.”

Campbell loves to hear the New Zealanders converse in their native tongue and tends to get almost as much out of their cultural contribution to All Stars week as his own.

Corey Harawira-Naera leads a haka with the Maori All Stars team.Credit:AAP

“We have the Maori here… when you see they speak and be so strong in the way they speak, it’s pretty cool. It’s great for us to have them involved because they teach us so much. The strength they have in their culture, language or dance or song, they can teach us a lot.

“So many of us haven’t been exposed to that side of our culture. They are proud and fierce but a beautiful culture, for me they set the bar. Every time I experince that with them, it gives me goosebumps.”

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Maori is far more widely spoken in New Zealand than indigenous languages across the width and breadth of Australia, some of which are in danger of dying out because of the lack of new generation speakers.

But language stands to be a part of future indigenous All Stars camps, with Campbell planning to have teachers come in and educate the players and staff on some of their local language groups. He believes it could be yet another special moment in a week that has become an annual highlight for those taking part.

“There’s a part of us, if not all of us, that want that. It doesn’t have to be the whole language book, just the parts that are special. The welcomes or language from ceremonies, it we could get involved in that it would be awesome.”



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