Labour tight-lipped about long-term plans for te reo in schools

Nanaia Mahuta
Nanaia Mahuta
All New Zealand schoolchildren would learn Maori under Labour's long-term plan for te reo, but it appears the party is loath to give the policy a high profile.

Labour Maori affairs spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta and education spokesman Chris Hipkins indicated Labour had an "aspirational" target for Maori to be taught in all schools after the Maori Party's Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Te Hira Paenga, claimed Labour had endorsed his party's policy for compulsory te reo in schools.

"We are glad to see Labour at last getting the message that our reo is something that we all, as New Zealanders, should embrace," Mr Paenga said.

Ms Mahuta initially suggested Mr Paenga had the wrong end of the stick, saying Labour would only promote its own policy which was "the recognition that te reo should be a working language for all New Zealanders".

However, Ms Mahuta was far more direct in a debate held in Gisborne earlier this month when she said: "We've made a clear commitment that te reo Maori will be compulsory in our schools."

She later said the comment was made in the context of the recognition "that there are some real challenges in our school system to build the capacity of our teaching workforce who are able to teach te reo Maori".

She said te reo for all schoolchildren was "an aspirational goal within our policy platform around te reo Maori and we believe that we need to take some practical steps to be able to build up, for example, the teaching workforce to be able to teach te reo Maori in our schools as a way towards supporting that aspiration".

Education spokesman Mr Hipkins said Labour "certainly wouldn't use the phrase compulsory" for its long-term te reo policy.

"I would certainly like to make sure all kids have the option and there is availability of te reo maori in all schools. Whether in fact that was compulsory, that's a discussion for another day.

"Frankly, we're just not at the point where we could have that discussion. For a start off we don't have enough te reo Maori teachers to be able to even contemplate that at the moment."

He said there was already unmet demand for Maori language teachers.

- By Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald

Life support

As I've always said, some languages are living, others are dead, but Maori is a language on life support. Like a person on life support, the hope appears to be that one day this language will be able to live without external support. However, it's pretty obvious this will never happen. The moment New Zealand stops pouring money into Te Reo to keep it alive, it will all but die out. That is the natural path the language is going down. Any attempt to change this is ultimately just a waste of time and money.

Choice

Just as Latin, French, German etc were not compulsory but choice subjects, then te reo Maori as a contemporaneous modified language should be treated the same way. It is not the language of international or majority communication or likely to be. New Zealand has a growing multi-cultural mix, that will in future due to numbers, confine te reo's use to the mixed race cultural group who wish to use it. Like road signage, you use the obvious not the complex version shown below contemporised from an earlier oral based society. When coming up with & pushing all these ethnic based ideas, more harm is done to a mixed society than is gained. For those who spend huge amounts of time being "PC" there is nothing "racial" in my comments, they are just common sense.

Labour would do well to leave this subject alone due to the damage done in past decades just to gain votes. 

Maori in schools

Labour obviously don't want to win an election by making statements like this. One thing that is guaranteed is that my son will not be going to school on Maori teaching days.

Compulsory-ish

Is Cunliffe's real problem that the whole party is unclear in direction, not just him?

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