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Launch of Maori Language Week 2006

20 July 2006 (7.15am)
Pipitea Marae, Wellington
Speech Notes
Launch of Maori Language Week 2006

Mihi.

Greetings to special guests.

I am delighted to be here with you this morning to celebrate the launch of Māori Language Week.

I attend many events throughout the year as the Minister of Māori Affairs but none gives me more pleasure than this launch because Te Reo is my passion.

Your presence here today tells me it is your passion too.

The genesis of Māori Language Week was the presentation to Parliament in September 1972 of a petition calling for courses in Māori language and culture to be offered in New Zealand schools.

The petition was a significant step towards the eventual foundation of Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori and the recognition of the Māori language as an official language of Aotearoa.

Māori Language Day grew to a week in 1975. So, we gather this morning to launch the 31st Māori Language Week.

It was during the 1970s that we woke up to the fact that Te Reo Māori was a language in dire straits. The prediction then was that Māori would become a language without native speakers.

Well, we’ve come a long way in 30 years and we can all be proud of the fact that we turned that prediction on its head!

This morning, we also celebrate the wonderful initiatives that revitalised Te Reo Māori and out of which the Māori renaissance was born, such as:

• Te Ātaarangi;

• Kōhanga Reo;

• Kura Kaupapa Māori; and

• Maori Language Broadcasting.

While we have much to celebrate we still have a lot to do to ensure the survival of our beautiful language. But at least the challenge now is a positive one – to do with growing the language, not rescuing it.

As Minister of Māori Affairs, I am proud to be part of a government that takes seriously the challenge of ensuring the survival of Te Reo Māori.

In 2003 we released the Māori Language Strategy with its vision for the future of the Māori language and five long-term goals to achieve that vision.

In a nutshell, the vision for the future of the Māori language is that within 25 years, the Māori language will be widely spoken by Māori.

The vision recognises the absolutely critical role of whānau in transmitting Te Reo within homes and communities.

And ultimately, that ALL New Zealanders will appreciate the value of Te Reo to the country.

The strategy’s five long-term goals are:

• Strengthening language skills;

• Strengthening language use;

• Strengthening language education opportunities;

• Strengthening community leadership; and

• Strengthening recognition of the Māori language.

The strategy also set out the roles of government in supporting these goals, and allocated responsibility for planning to various agencies.

It is very much a whole-of-government approach.

This is important because we are all responsible for ensuring the survival of Te Reo Māori. And just to give you an idea of who’s doing what:

• Ministry of Education leads on Māori language education;

• Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Māngai Pāho leads on Māori language broadcasting;

• Ministry for Culture and Heritage leads on Māori language arts;

• National library leads on Māori language archives;

• Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori leads on Māori language development, information programme, whānau language development, and language services; and

• Te Puni Kōkiri also leads on policy, coordination and monitoring.

We have a vision, we have some long term goals, and we have key players in government tasked with achieving those goals and realising the vision.

But it is important that we can measure the results of all of the efforts of the various agencies. Te Puni Kōkiri is doing some good work on this front. One example I want to touch on briefly, is the research on Attitudes to the Māori Language.

I know Leith will say some more on this soon, but the good news from that research is that there is a growing positiveness towards Te Reo amongst both non-Māori as well as Māori.

The research also found that New Zealanders are more supportive of Māori being used in public settings.

So we are now in the most Te Reo Māori-friendly environment that we have ever experienced and that means that Te Reo can prosper even more.

Te Puni Kōkiri has also been the persistent driver/motivator/encourager with government agencies and I was pleased to hear recently that the lead agencies intend to up the ante in the coming twelve months to work together for even more progress.

I congratulate those individuals and their organisations for their tremendous efforts over the past year and the many initiatives that have come about because of their commitment and hard work.

You may well have heard recently that I have been talking with stakeholders about the Māori Potential Approach which Te Puni Kōkiri is implementing.

Many words have been written and spoken about the Māori Potential Approach.

But when the wool shed is swept out and the doors locked, it is simply about Māori enjoying a better quality of life.

That means Māori succeeding as Māori.

Each of us here knows instinctively that Māori potential for success is huge.

Well, the Māori Potential Approach guides us towards realising that potential, but not at the expense of who we are as Māori. Te Reo is a key component of matauranga Māori and realising Māori potential.

Before I finish, I want to thank Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori and the Human Rights Commission. With Te Puni Kōkiri, the three organisations work together to make Māori Language Week happen. This relationship goes from strength to strength each year and collectively they have always ensured a highly successful week.

I also wish to thank SPARC for their very generous support of this year’s Māori Language Week and in doing so give support to the sports theme for this year’s activities.

“Kia kaha ake! Give it a go” is the key message for Māori Language Week 2006. Let’s do that.

Kia ora.

ENDS

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