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Mapp Report: The Future Of Our Country

The Future Of Our Country: Open Debate Not Bureaucratic Control

This Waitangi weekend gives New Zealanders the opportunity to celebrate what it means to be a New Zealander. This will also be a time to consider where our country is headed. Naturally, in a democracy this should be a matter of open public debate - just how we strike the balance in our public institutions that both recognises diversity but also ensures that we all unite as New Zealanders with values in common.

It is not the job of bureaucrats to unilaterally drive these developments. It is typical of the politically correct that they believe they should have the power to decide what is best for the rest of us.

On March 7 thousands of census workers will hand deliver census papers to every household in New Zealand. As has been the policy since 1996, census papers will be available in both English and Maori - the two official languages of New Zealand.

This year the chief statistician has decided to make it compulsory for census workers to ask each household what version of the census they would like to receive. This is different from previous years, when it was the householders initiative whether or not to request either a Maori or English language form.

While this may not appear significant, the fact is that New Zealand has not chosen to become a bilingual country, like Canada. New Zealand has not made it compulsory for every primary student to learn Maori. It is clear, however, that te reo is being used frequently in everyday communications. For instance - "How is the whanau?" Schools do ensure students have some understanding of Maori language and culture, particularly in singing waiata and kapa haka.

The Canadian situation provides an interesting contrast with New Zealand. In Canada 75% of people have English as their first language and 25% have French as their first language. As a consequence, Canada has embraced bilingualism. All senior management and executive positions within the Federal Government require fluency in both French and English. Most other positions within the Federal Government have significant language requirements. All elementary school children are required to study the French language. Indeed, even the recorded message on the Canadian High Commission's phone is recorded in both English and French

New Zealand is different. Only a small percentage of people have Maori as a first language. However, the use of Maori language is a much greater aspect of daily discourse than is French outside Quebec.

In New Zealand people are not continually asked what language they will use. For instance while it is possible for students to sit their exams in Maori, and for evidence in court to be provided in Maori, it is not automatic. Students must apply to NZQA prior to sitting their exams to ensure that the correct forms and translators are made available. In court cases, those giving evidence must make it clear that Maori is the language by which they will present their evidence. The key point here is that there is not the initial statement made - "Do you want to give evidence in English or Maori?"

Let me make my position clear. I recognise that Maori language and culture is an integral part of New Zealand. It is a significant part of Maori identity, and there is an increasing use of the language in all sorts of contexts.

The evolution of the culture of our country and our public institutions is surely a matter for open debate, not something to be left to unelected PC bureaucrats.

3 February 2006 - 13 February 2006

SuperBlues Monday Morning Tea Group

with speaker

Dr Jackie Blue

24 February 2006

Business luncheon at Takapuna Boating Club with guest speaker

Hon Bill English

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