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Maori Protests Damage Maori Language

Maori Protests Damage Maori Language

Tuesday 30 Oct 2001 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Commerce

"Self appointed owners of the Maori language who have bullied LEGO into cancelling the use of Maori names have reduced the chances of Maori surviving as a vibrant language," says ACT Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks.

"The Maori Wai 262 claimants demand veto rights on use of so called "indigenous knowledge". They may succeed, eventually extracting some rents or pay offs, or a feeling of personal power, but at the cost of long term damage to the prospects of te reo.

"When LEGO stops using the 10 Maori words naming the Bionicle toys Maori lose an opportunity to familiarise millions of children with the sounds and shapes and feel of Maori.

"We all know the importance of familiarity. We can't remember the names of foreigners, and they find it hard to remember our place names because the arrangements of unfamiliar vowels and consonants are hard to store.

"Maui Solomon's success in intimidating Lego also sends a signal to others who might have wanted to use Maori "don't bother, it won't be worth the trouble.

"The notion is hilarious of exclusive rights to a language. Languages are for communication. The more people how know them or recognise the words the better.

"Ultimately Government dithering is responsible for this Maori own goal. It fuels nonsense claims that "indigenous information" should be treated like patented discoveries. The current Trade Marks Bill gives Maori power to unilaterally expropriate any property value built up in a trade mark if some Maori can show they now find it "culturally offensive". This politically correct government has included this in the Trade Marks Bill without explaining the rationale.

"When future generations of Maori call to account those who have let their language shrivel in the giant's winter garden, by locking out people who would use it, current Government Ministers should be in their sights," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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