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Council 'tramples on the mana of te reo'

Ki te kore tätou e körero Mäori, ka ngaro te reo,

Ka ngaro te reo, ka ngaro ngä tikanga.

Ka ngaro ngä tikanga, ka ngaro tätou ki te Ao.

Ko te reo te kaipupuri i te Mäoritanga.

On 1 August 1987, the Maori Language Act came into force, declaring Maori language to be an official language of New Zealand. On 11 February 2006, the Whanganui District Council announced results of a referendum, which the Maori Party says, tramples on the mana of te reo Maori.

“Te Reo Mäori is the cornerstone of all that is Mäori” stated Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party. “It is a living language, a national taonga for our nation. As such, we are saddened by the conservative position that Whanganui District Council has taken”.

“To state the obvious, Whanganui is a Maori word” said Dr Sharples. “As a linguist, it seems ridiculous that the correct spelling of a word is being decided by people who do not have that specialist knowledge”.

“I understand Te Taura Whiri i te reo Maori (Maori Language Commission) provided advice to the Council which confirmed that the ‘H’ is in the written word, even though in the mita (dialect) the ‘h’ is silent. I have to ask why local government chose to ignore that advice”.

“Will we now rewrite the English dictionary to remove the silent letters from the huge numbers of English words?”

“I was really stoked when I heard that Whangarei District Council changed the name of the local mountain, from Parahaki to the correct Parihaka,” said Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau.

“They checked with local iwi, got the facts, put the matter to the NZ Geographic Board, and supported the recommendation to the Minister to make the change, which he duly did in July last year".

“I am really disappointed that Whanganui District Council didn’t follow their lead” stated Tariana Turia, Member for Te Tai Hauauru and Co-leader. “There was a process which they could have followed which could have provided a great opportunity to engage our communities in dialogue about an issue of such significance to Whanganui iwi. It was a chance to move on, together, as a community”.

“Our reo, our mita, is all about identity” stated Tariana Turia. “It’s more than just a place name. It’s central to our Whanganuiatanga”.


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