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Sharples’ stewardship of language woeful

Maori Affairs Spokesperson

Sharples’ stewardship of language woeful

Maori language week should be an opportunity to highlight the value and importance of Te Reo Maori to our nation, says Labour’s Maori Affairs spokesperson Shane Jones.

“Obviously the Labour Party remains committed to those institutions that play a vital role in sustaining Te Reo Maori, including Kōhanga, Kura and Maori Television.

“I have to say however, that this year’s Te Reo campaign has one significant missing element -- a visible Minister of Maori Affairs.

“I fear that Dr Pita Sharples’ listless approach has infected this year’s campaign. In March 2011, a Maori language review was undertaken called Te Reo Mauriora. Dr Sharples was said to be considering the recommendations so that a new Maori language strategy could be developed.

“However, more than two years on Dr Sharples has told the Maori Affairs Select Committee that the report’s findings have not yet been put into place.

“Language policy which is not championed by a dedicated and passionate minister causes drift.

“For example, Kōhanga Reo is the nursery of the language and as such it was regrettable to watch that movement have to resort to the Waitangi Tribunal before Dr Sharples and his team took any notice of its parlous state.

“Labour understands Dr Sharples is drifting, but his poor performance cannot be allowed to undermine the efforts of Maori to strengthen the language. The Labour Party will continue to support all initiatives that prioritise the advancement of Te Reo Maori.”

Mr Jones said this year’s focus – on place names and pronunciation – was not unimportant. “But it sits better as part of a tourism strategy, rather than as the centre piece for boosting bilingualism.

“There’s only one place name Dr Sharples should focus on, and that’s Haere ra, commonly understood to mean ‘departure lounge’,” Shane Jones said.


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