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A Stocktake Of Maori Language Efforts

5th October 1999
For immediate release



Maori Affairs Minister Hon Tau Henare today released Te Tuaoma Te Reo Maori, which documents efforts undertaken by Maori and the Government to revitalise the Maori language.

"Keeping the Maori language alive into the 21st century will require a gigantic effort from both Maori and the Government," said Mr Henare.

He said Maori revitalisation would depend ultimately on the policies, plans and practices that Maori develop and use at iwi, hapu, and whanau and at an organisational level. Through its Maori Language Strategy, the challenge for Government was to create an environment to encourage the use of Maori, particularly in the state sector, and provide assistance and support to Maori revitalisation initiatives.

"Although this document gives us an opportunity to look at what has been achieved, it clearly indicates that there is no room for complacency and there are still many areas where language revitalisation efforts require further work in the future."

The report shows that in 1998, there were 29,000 Maori students in Maori language immersion and bilingual schools and classes. In Maori radio, there are major initiatives planned to increase the amount of Maori language content over the next five years and a Maori television station, due to start at the end of the year, is also expected to broadcast programmes mainly in the Maori language.

Mr Henare said the Government's Maori Language Education play was still being refined. It outlines: strategies to produce much needed resources for use by Maori language teachers and students; increase the number of teachers fluent in Maori; and foster community support by involving parents and the community in Maori language learning.

In the state sector, guidelines have been produced and distributed to each government department providing practical advice on developing Maori language policies, plans and practices. Government departments must have their policy and implementation plans in place by July 2000. Te Puni Kokiri will be responsible for monitoring, evaluating and reporting on progress made by government departments.

"After the 2001 Census, the Government will also conduct a socio-linguistic survey," said Mr Henare.

"The survey will show how healthy the Maori is, compare the data to earlier survey findings and be used, if necessary, to modify Government policies and practices."

He said there were many other matters the Government would need to address in the short to medium term, including its response to the Waitangi Tribunal's recommendations on the 2GHz claim; the feasibility of making specific categories of traffic signs and road markings bilingual; and ways in which learning and use of Maori by parents can be supported.

"Te Tuaoma Te Reo Maori is a springboard for both Maori and the Government to continue to have ongoing and open dialogue about the challenges we face to revitalise the Maori language.

"Both Maori and Government have shown their commitment to revitalising the Maori," said Mr Henare. "And each partner has a different but complementary role to make sure the Maori language becomes a dynamic feature of everyday life for all New Zealanders."


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