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ACT Criticises Rata Critic

ACT Criticises Rata Critic

Tuesday 27 Jul 2004

Stephen Franks - Press Releases - Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks today welcomed the report of respected Auckland academic Dr Elizabeth Rata - but expressed concern that Maori Language Commission chief executive Haami Piripi has only just heard of her.

"Dr Rata is well-known for her research and writing. Someone in Mr Piripi's position should not only have heard of her, he should have made it his business to evaluate the vital arguments she raises," Mr Franks said.

"For Mr Piripi to admit that he had not heard of Dr Rata until three weeks ago raises serious questions about his fitness for the position. To go further, and judge her work on the basis of walkouts by the race bigots who don't believe in debate makes me wonder what he thinks language is for.

"Mr Piripi is in no position to question Dr Rata's report - Ethnic Ideologies in New Zealand Education: What's Wrong with Kaupapa Maori. Should a man who favours boycotts over korero head a language commission?

"This is debate that New Zealand sorely needs. For too long, the Labour Government has relied on labelling anyone who questions anything Maori as `rednecks' or `racists'. Labour's behaviour over the seabed and foreshore has aggravated that, and done damage to race relations in New Zealand that can only be mended with honest debate.

"In publishing this report, Dr Rata has shown considerable courage. She has asked whether the emperor has any clothes. Whether the anointed like it or not, any government should be asking that question before spending money extracted under compulsion from Maori and pakeha - many of whom have interest in language separatism.

"What does language immersion produce? It is proper for us all to worry if language promotion is a cover for a racist political agenda," Mr Franks said.


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