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Maori Language & Culture for the Public Service

Maori Language & Culture for the Public Service: Henare speech

In the last three decades, throughout the country in cities, towns and rural communities, Maori have remained at the forefront of the search for solutions to revitalise the Maori language.

Back in the mid-70s the Tu Tangata programme was a milestone in Maori self-development. It spearheaded many early initiatives to revitalise the Maori language: Te Atairangi; the birth of kohanga reo in the early 80s; the pilot broadcast of Te Upoko O Te Ika; and, of course, the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal Te Reo Maori claim in 1985 that was to become a watershed.

Today I would like to acknowledge and salute people who back then and at the present time continue to be integral and prominent in the revitalisation of te reo Huirangi Waikerepuru, Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Timoti Karetu, Pita Sharples (any more?).

When I think back, I can also recall many other Maori language stalwarts, leaders no longer with us, but nonetheless have left a formidable legacy. For instance, my koroua Sir James Henare, Maori Marsden, Canon Wi Huata, John Rangihau, Sonny Waru, Wiremu Ohia and Monita Delamere to name a few.

It's my view that in many respects Maori have been a fundamental force behind Government efforts to revitalise the language. Had it not been for our people consistently requesting, prodding and pushing their concerns about the language, I doubt very much that we would have any of the initiatives we have around us today.

The creation of this institution ? Te Taura Whiri ? Te Mangai Paho, the rise of iwi stations, funding of Maori language television programmes and Maori medium education, use of Maori in the courts, the introduction of the Maori Language Act and the State Sector Act ? all of these are in no small way attributable to Maori efforts, as most, if not all, had their genesis in the Te Reo claim.

Despite this, this booklet, Te Tuaoma, tells us that the language is "endangered" and the task ahead as this booklet tell us is "gigantic."

Gigantic is in fact an understatement, ladies and gentlemen.

For Maori, revitalisation of the Maori language will continue to depend on the plans, policies and practices that we develop and use at iwi, hapu, whanau and at an organisational level.

For Government, the priority is to build on the five Maori language objectives agreed to by Cabinet in 1997. These goals are the backbone of the Government's plans and are outlined in page 12 of this booklet.

Working towards these policy objectives is no small feat. We have, I believe, made some laudable inroads, although as I'm sure you would agree, there is no room for complacency.

The Government has sought an increase in the number of hours of Maori language content on iwi radio stations and committed funds for this to happen. We've also set aside funding for a Maori television station, expected to go to air later this year. And NZ On Air has set aside $3m to fund mainstream tv programmes that promotes Maori language and culture.

Our Maori Language Education Plan, which is still being refined, puts an emphasis on Maori language resources for teachers and students, and strategies to increase the supply of teachers fluent in te reo.

Add to that our most recent initiatives and a drive by myself to set up scholarships so iwi radio stations can afford to get their people proper training, aside from the money they get from TMP; the fact TPK has been strengthened to monitor and evaluate government departments policies and practices; and you get the picture that the wheels of government are creaking along.

There are also other activities being pursued and which the Government will need to address, for example its response to the Waitangi Tribunal's recommendation on the Spectrum sale; bilingual road signs and road markings to name a few.

Maybe the Government's wheels need oiling though. It's certainly the reaction I get from people one would unfavourably call zealots, to those who have a passion for these issues.

Can I say today, while I'm still on my feet, that I'm pleased to see a healthy partnership emerging between the three agencies I believe must show the greatest leadership in the revitalisation of te reo in the public service: Te Taura Whiri, TPK and TMP.

They're more powerful as a unified voice, rather than individual agencies working in isolation, and it's timely to remember we?re all heading in the same direction.

As one of my final tasks today I want to share with you a few ideas on where Mauri Pacific fits in to all this.

Last week we released our Aotearoa Policy. You wouldn't know it because the media believes unless you poll, you're heading for the dole.

But the Aotearoa Policy was about all of the things we've talked about today and more. Compulsory Maori language as part of the education curriculum to form two; Ourstory or Maori history as part of the senior school. Developing a constitution with the Treaty as the lynchpin.

The Aotearoa Policy is about making the picture fit for many New Zealanders. I've been fascinated with reports from the weekend about the haka; it seems everywhere you turn people are doing it.

The NZ forces in East Timor; the partners of the Silver Ferns netball side before the start of play on Saturday night; and now Black Caps bowler Shayne O'Connor makes headlines in India for a stirring redemption of the haka.

What's everyone doing? The haka. Why? Because that's what New Zealanders are known for. Maybe it's time to start thinking about how we accord the haka some kind of official status in the same way we did with te reo? Food for thought, perhaps.

In other words, it's an identity issue.

Not if, but when Mauri Pacific comes back to Parliament we?ll be making the Aotearoa Policy one of our priorities.

We also recognise that Maori radio and television are important tools in the revival of the Maori language, but that both are left to their own resources to train staff on the meagre income they receive.

Mauri Pacific will set aside $10 million for Maori language broadcasting training.

We also believe the public service has a role to play in increasing the every day use of the language. So Mauri Pacific will be asking Te Taura Whiri to develop a Maori language plan for the public service to implement, rather than relying on government agencies to develop their own strategies.

We will make it incumbent on all public servants to undertake a course in Maori language and culture to assist them in their dealings with Maori clients because Maori access public services more than any other group.

It is important for that in order for the public service to deliver an effective service that its staff understands from the top down what their major client group needs.

It's also an issue of leadership that the Government should be taking the lead on.

The short-term aims of parts of the Maori Language Policy I've outlined to you today are to increase the every day use of te reo.

The long-term aim is simple: to make New Zealand a bilingual nation with the Maori language more than just that "other" dialect.

I want to conclude my korero today by doing two things:

1. Formally launching this document and reiterating that there's still a long road to hoe, but with a commitment from members of parliament prepared to MAKE the change as opposed to HOPE-ing it will happen, we can lance forward optimistically that those who will protect, enhance and ensure te reo survival have the aspirations of the people at heart. 2. Lastly, I simply want to announce the new members of Te Taura Whiri recently approved for appointment:

· Professor Pat Hohepa · Mr Ruka Broughton · Mrs Waereti Tait-Rolleston · "Q" or Quinton Hita.

Pat will be the new chair of Te Taura Whiri.

Congratulations to them all. I'm confident they'll b able to continue the job and set new standards for Maori language enhancement.

The last word from Tau today is about this referendum to cut the number of MPs. What it's really about is suppressing the amount of power or influence Maori can have in parliament.

I don't care what the proponents say about time consuming, professional MPs? whatever. The real agenda is making sure the Maori stays in a box.

We need to ensure our people are registered to vote, then put a tick in the "no" box on their ballot sheet when they fill them in.

No to oppression. Yes to equity.

Thank you.


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