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"my language is the window to my soul"

Hon Tariana Turia and Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leaders
Tuesday 9 August 2011

Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria;

My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.

Maori Party Co-leaders, Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia, have chosen International Day of World Indigenous Peoples to speak out strongly in support of Pacific nations in their call to promote the status of Pasifika languages in Aotearoa.

“August 9 is our special day across the globe, when we celebrate the distinctive cultures of an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples speak more than 4000 of the nearly 7000 languages which are still spoken in the world” said Dr Sharples

“When we heard the call from our Pacific whanaunga to promote the significance of Pasifika languages it was a call to the heart which we are duty bound to take up”.

“The support the Maori Party has been able to give to Te Ataarangi; to Te Reo Mauriora, to kura kaupapa Maori and to kohanga reo in the revitalisation of te reo Maori, has been amongst some of our most important achievements”.

“The theme for 2011, “Indigenous Designs: Celebrating Stories and Cultures, Crafting Our Own Future,” highlights the need to preserve indigenous cultures” said Tariana Turia.

“We endorse the call from Pasifika peoples, for official recognition to be given in Aotearoa to the languages of Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Samoa and Tonga, as promoting and protecting Pacific languages; and thereby nurturing the spirit and the strength of the peoples.

We have been greatly concerned at the impact of changes the Ministry of Education has made in eliminating bilingualism goals and a lack of support for two series of resources, Tupu (published in five Pasifika languages) and Folauga (published in Samoan)".

“There is a huge volume of research demonstrating that bilingual education has proven ability to enhance students’ performance in English academic areas, especially language and mathematics” said Mrs Turia.

“We firmly believe – as we have seen with Maori immersion achievement – that Pacific children who are bilingual will eventually show better educational achievement than those who are not”.

"While we understand the Ministry may be reviewing the format of bilingual material, we hope that there will new impetus in supporting the call from Pacific language groups, for promoting and supporting language growth" said Dr Sharples.

“The Maori Party is taking the opportunity of World Indigenous Peoples Day to encourage the New Zealand Government to support Pacific languages, and enable and support Pacific communities to continue to nurture their own languages”.


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