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'Disaster for the economy, and Maori language'

'Another disaster for the economy, and for the language' - Hone Harawira

'Another disaster for the economy, and for the language' Hone Harawira, Maori Party Spokesperson for Communications Thursday 29 November 2007

"Teletech's decision to outsource its call-centre to the Philippines is another disaster for the state of this country's economy, as well as for this country's first language," says Hone Harawira, Maori Party Spokesperson for Communications.

"It's no surprise though. Vodafone has also outsourced its contact centre for prepay customers to Cairo of all places," said Harawira, "but it's still hard to stomach when you see how much of our business is being lost overseas."

"One month out from Christmas, and a hundred Teletech workers in Palmerston North have just been told their jobs will be gone come April next year," said Harawira. "Some Christmas for those poor buggers - it's no wonder people are heading over the ditch."

"This government's ability to lose jobs to overseas markets seems to be matched only by their ability to lose workers to overseas countries," said Harawira.

"But the other big concern for us is what it will mean for our language of communications here in Aotearoa" said Harawira.

"I'm on the road a lot and I use 018 to help find people, and I've always been really impressed, and quietly proud too as a matter of fact, about just how quickly Kiwi operators respond to queries about Maori names and Maori places," says Harawira. "Sadly that will all change now."

"Teletech reckons that their Filipino operators speak 'good American-English', but that won't mean a thing in a country where people speak Kiwi-English and there are literally thousands of Maori names in everyday use."

"I can just see what's going to happen once it goes overseas - 'Harrywearer (Harawira) - can you spell that please? Whypappakowree (Waipapakauri) - can you spell that please?'

"We'll be asking the Minister of Communications, and the Minister of Maori Affairs, what steps they'll be taking to ensure operators can understand and respond properly to requests for Maori names," said Harawira, "but given this government's record on things Maori, we won't be holding our breath for a positive response. We will however be working on proposals to help safeguard the language in the future"


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