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Launch of Cultureflow Resources

Hon Tariana Turia
28 August 2002 Speech Notes

Launch of Cultureflow Resources
Dymocks Bookshop, Lambton Quay, Wellington

E nga mana o te Whanganui a Tara, tena koutou.
E te iwi e huihui nei, tënä koutou katoa.
Kei te mihi hoki ki te tokorua nei, me a raua mahi. Tënä körua.

I am pleased to launch this package of resources this evening, and I salute the authors. They add to the kete of tools to help people learn te reo Mäori, and to understand the cultural imperatives that drive Mäori society.

They seem ideal for beginners. I consider myself a kohanga level speaker of our reo, and I, as much as anyone, will find them useful.

What us learners want is, first, some guidance and mentoring (but not necessarily overt and explicit correction), and, second, safe environments to practice our skills without fear of criticism or failure.

Using Maori in public, and on formal occasions, is good for the status of our reo. Parliament has a fulltime interpreter, and members can speak in Maori if they wish.

This is good, even though it is largely a symbolic gesture. Parliament is not the ideal place for learners like me to practice speaking Maori.

You may have noticed that I did not repeat my oath in Maori the other day, even though I could have read the words. People have asked me why not, when I did so the previous two times.

On the earlier occasions, I wanted to draw attention to the equal status of our reo in Parliament. However, I discovered the other day that an Oath of Allegiance has no mana if it is given in Maori.

You can swear on the Koran, as my colleague Ashraf Choudhary did, or in any other way that is binding on you, but you have to speak English.

The reason is that the form of words for the oath is specified in the Oaths and Declarations Act – and that’s an old law, that recognises only English. The Maori oath is just an optional extra.

Well, I don’t like token gestures. It seemed to demean the language. I’d rather not use Maori at all.

I am pleased to say that an amendment is before the House at present. This amendment will remove a legal impediment and an institutional barrier to the use of Maori language. When it is passed, I will happily swear allegiance to the Queen and her family - in te reo Maori.

In the meantime, tools like Cultureflow allow us to learn and practice in comfort and privacy. They provide a safety net as we walk the tightrope between our need to practice and our fear of failure.

I am pleased to launch Cultureflow Resources.

Kia ora ano tatou katoa.

ENDS

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