More ambition needed in government plan to support te reo Māori
Between 10 and 17 September (Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week), community campaigning organisation ActionStation gathered the views of more than 850 people on the government’s draft strategy for Māori Language Revitalisation 2018 – 2023.
report makes the following recommendations:
• Both Te reo Māori and New Zealand history should be core subjects in all schools;
• New Zealand history should be widely taught and commemorated in our cities and towns so that adults and visitors can learn about it too.
In order to achieve the government’s vision of one million speakers of basic te reo Māori by 2040, participants also indicated support for government initiatives that ensure all schools and teachers have access to adequate resources and training, long-term funding for Māori media and stories, and the creation of bilingual cities and signage.
The report has 19 recommendations in total with suggestions coming from people aged 17 - 88 and from all around New Zealand. 97 percent of the participants were Pākehā or Tauiwi (non-Māori) and 19 percent were Māori with some choosing to identify with more than one ethnicity.
“The people we heard from were in support of two of the three goals of the government’s plan, for there to be one million speakers of basic te reo Māori, and 150,000 who speak te reo as a primary language by 2040,” says ActionStation Community Campaign Organiser Eliot Pryor.
“However, the majority of people also said the third goal that ‘Aotearoa New Zealand values te reo Māori as a key element of national identity by 2040’, is for many of us a statement of fact right now, not an aspirational goal for 20 years time.”
90 percent (774) of the people who participated in the online survey say they already consider and value te reo Māori as part of their identities as a New Zealander.
“People have told us the most important reason for the government to protect, enhance and nurture te reo Māori is because it is a precious taonga,” says Pryor. “Government have a responsibility to ensure it flourishes.”
“Many participants asked ‘why not 2030?’ ‘Why only one million speakers?’” says Pryor.
Here are a selection of quotes from participants in the research process:
“We will understand each other better when we can understand - in te reo Māori - the key stories and core concepts of tikanga Māori.” - Mary
“Te Reo Māori is the first language of Aotearoa and is linked to the identity of Aotearoa. It needs to flourish and will only strengthen if it is used and valued.” - Patricia
“As a 72-yr old Pākehā born in the South Island, I tried learning te reo, and failed due to external pressures unrelated to the course. Living in Ōtaki, which is a very bilingual town, I delight in hearing the reo being spoken in the town. We should embrace te reo, and I do.” - Lloyd
“I went to a school that taught te reo Māori as a compulsory subject for two years, and also taught New Zealand history. I'm constantly stunned that others were not taught these subjects. Education creates understanding and acceptance.” - Laura