AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The families lined up at the theater above a shopping mall here in New Zealand’s biggest city and filed past posters for Stephen King’s “It” and “Captain Underpants” for a film unlike any they had ever seen — the Disney hit “Moana,” translated into the indigenous language of New Zealand.
“Kei te pehea koe?” said the ticket taker, Jane Paul, greeting groups of children with a phrase meaning, “How are you?”
“Are you Maori too?” one girl asked.
About 125,000 of New Zealand’s 4.7 million people speak the Maori language, or “te reo M?ori,” as it is widely rendered here. There are concerns that numbers are declining, putting it at risk of dying out. But with one in three Maori people in New Zealand younger than 15, experts said the chance for youth to see a wildly popular movie in their own words could turn the language’s fortunes around …
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