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When an official language, isn't official

When is an official language, not an official language?

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

Friday 23 June 2006

Recent discussions undertaken between Land Transport Safety Authority and a tiny kura in the heart of Ngati Pikiao rohe, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Rotoiti, make a mockery of New Zealand having declared te reo Maori an official language, says Waiariki Member of Parliament, Te Ururoa Flavell.

Almost ten years after former Minister of Education, Wyatt Creech, announced a primary school called Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Rotoiti, and designated the school as a kura kaupapa Maori (5 July 1996) it would appear that the kura is now being constrained in actively promoting use of te reo Maori. "The Act recognises te reo Maori in law and allows it to be used in the Courts" said Mr Flavell. "Yet in everyday signage, like the side of a school bus, a four-letter word (kura) is deemed illegal".

"When this small Rotoiti school was officiallly designated a kura, the official documents stated a goal being for the students to "develop a high degree of pride and self-respect"; and that every effort should be taken "to ensure the survival of the Maori language and of tikanga Maori", in the long term aim "to help students become confident bicultural and bilingual citizens".

"I am outraged that our taonga, te reo Maori, is being treated with such disrespect" said Mr Flavell. "I have been told that when the Principal of the kura, Hawea Vercoe, contacted LTNZ, they advised him that if he wanted to add the word 'kura' he would need to apply for an exemption, an exemption he was not likely to get".

"From my reading of the Land Transport rules - although the rules do not mention bilingual signs, they are not prohibited" said Mr Flavell.

"How on earth can we hope that our tamariki will become 'confident bicultural and bilingual citizens' if te reo Maori is not able to be used as part of our every day language?".

"I will be taking these issues up with the Minister of Transport" concluded Mr Flavell.

Background Notes

Status of Te Reo Maori as an official language of New Zealand

In the 1986 Te Reo Maori Report the Waitangi Tribunal determined that the Maori language was a taonga and therefore had protection under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi. This, in turn, led in August 1987 to the passing of the Maori Language Act which declared Maori an official language of New Zealand.

Interestingly, Colbert's Bus Service in Ruatoria used Maori names emblazoned on its buses, buses which transported students to Ngata Memorial College, Ruatoria from settlements like Waipiro Bay and Te Puia Springs and the outlying farming hinterland. This was in the 1950s before the Maori language was deemed "official" and they displayed the necessary "school bus signage". The buses were named Atu, Apirana, Ngatiporou and Hikurangi. Hikurangi is still running. The reo was acceptable when not "Official" but now appears unacceptable when it is "Official".

Aims, purposes, and objectives of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Rotoiti. New Zealand Gazette - Te Kahiti o Aotearoa ; notice 4435; 1996.

Together with the use of te reo Maori as the principal language of instruction, the following aims, purposes, and objectives constitute the character of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Rotoiti:

(i) To develop in all pupils a high degree of pride and self-respect.

(ii) To enhance each child's identity and uniqueness.

(iii) To ensure a holistic approach to education.

(iv) To achieve high levels of competence in all areas of learning.
(v) To provide meaningful and challenging programmes in all curriculum areas.

(vi) To foster each child's endeavours towards reaching personal levels of attainment.

(vii) To ensure the survival of the Maori language and of tikanga Maori

(viii) To help students become confident bicultural and bilingual citizens.

Land Transport Rule Traffic Control Devices 2004 Rule 5400

Vehicle-mounted signs 4.4(14) A motor vehicle that is being used as a school bus must display on the outside of the vehicle a 'School Bus' sign, as specified in Schedule 1at both the front and the rear.

Schedule 1 Signs

* All measurements are shown in millimetres, unless otherwise indicated.

* The letter 'R' after a colour indicates that the colour must either be made of retroreflective material or be internally or externally illuminated so as to be clearly visible to approaching drivers.

* The letters 'F' after a colour indicates that the colour must be fluorescent.

* The size of lettering and numerals is shown by two figures separated by a diagonal slash. The first figure is the letter height in millimetres and the second figure is stroke width in millimetres.

* All red diagonal bars are sloping 45° from top left to bottom right unless otherwise specified.

* The word 'rural' after the name or description of a sign indicates that the sign is used on roads having a speed limit that is a Limited Speed Zone or is at least 70 km/h.

* The word 'urban' after the name or description of a sign indicates that the sign is used on roads having a speed limit that is less than 70 km/h.

*The word 'shaft' with a dimension refers to shaft-width of an arrow having a head-length and -width at least twice the shaft-width.

* 'Tpt Med' means the typeface used is Transport Medium.

* The words 'lit' and 'unlit' refer to the state of the lighting devices used to display the message on the sign.

* The word 'effective' is used where the message is lit and describes the effective width of the lighting, which is generally wider than the spacing or diameter of the lighting devices used.

* The size of a symbol is shown as width x height.

ENDS

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