Strong links have been formed between the Lakota and Dakota peoples of the United States and a group of Maori, among them Awhina Twomey from Whanganui.
Ms Twomey, a fluent speaker of te reo Maori and the kaiwhakaako (Maori educator) at the Whanganui Regional Museum, has just returned from a two-week trip to North Dakota and South Dakota.
She went with her fellow students at Te Panekiretanga - an organisation fostering excellence in te reo Maori - to share their experiences of helping revive te reo with the Lakota and Dakota peoples, whose languages are at risk of dying out.
Ms Twomey has returned to New Zealand having made many new American friends, who have kept in touch and are keen to learn more about ways they can help preserve their language.
"We weren't there to tell them what to do about their language," she said.
"But we shared our experiences and let them know what worked for us and what didn't work for us."
Ms Twomey said she and her colleagues were there as "allies" for the Lakota and Dakota peoples.
"They're still standing alone, trying to save their language. They don't have a lot of resources and they don't have a lot of government support.
"So we were there to tell them, 'Your struggle is our struggle'."
Ms Twomey said while the languages and cultures were very different from Maori, some experiences were similar.
"Some of the elders are fluent, but the younger generations aren't. The older generations were strapped or caned at school for speaking their language - just as my grandfather and my mother were. So they don't teach the younger ones their own language," she said.
Ms Twomey said she and her colleagues were all struck by the extreme, overt racism their First Nations friends - and sometimes they themselves - experienced.
"We were wondering why our brothers and sisters were so oppressed, and then we realised.
"Racism is everywhere - every day is a struggle for them."
Ms Twomey said she was keen to go back to the Lakota people and work with those teaching the language.