Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Time for bilingual Māori to join the multilingual world

Time for bilingual Māori to join the multilingual world

by Will Flavell
August 11, 2014

I love learning languages. I am a speaker of English, Japanese and te reo Māori. I have also had the opportunity to learn some Chinese Mandarin, Spanish and Samoan over the past decade. I couldn’t think of anything more satisfying than being able to freely converse in another person’s native tongue. I started learning Japanese in my first year at high school. I remember reading the school notices to host a Japanese student for two weeks and the rest is history. I studied Japanese for five years at high school and it was my major at University. I admittedly never studied Māori at school. It never really interested me. I continually got asked why I could speak Japanese and not have the reo. I would shrug my shoulders as I couldn’t at the time come up with an appropriate answer. However, I remember in my last year at high school learning about the Treaty of Waitangi. I learnt about the terrible injustices and atrocities that Māori experienced during the 19th century. I felt angry and disappointed about those previous wrongdoings which propelled me to make the conscious decision to pick up te reo Māori. I remember my first day at University in that I couldn’t say more than a few general Māori greetings and even struggled to identify which iwi I belonged to. However, I knew deep down that if I wanted to contribute to positive Māori outcomes particularly a career working with our rangatahi than it was a no brainer that I needed the reo.

Even though New Zealand relies on many countries for international trade, we are embarrassingly still a fairly monolingual society. We have our own thriving indigenous language where access to resources are abundant such as Māori television, iwi radio and education classes to name a few. Why do Kiwis have such a lacklustre attitude towards language learning? Our largest city Auckland has increasingly become more multicultural but the number of secondary school and tertiary students learning languages is sadly decreasing. This will be a major problem for our future.

A few years ago, I published my Masters research on a Kura Kaupapa Māori in Rotorua that has a compulsory Spanish language programme. My initial feeling was that how could a Māori immersion setting teach a foreign language when these types of schools were set up thirty years ago to save Māori language from its death. How could introducing a foreign language possibly align with Kaupapa Māori values and principles? I was astounded by how sophisticated this Spanish language programme was in that it had employed native language teachers, received overwhelming support by the community and even had regular language and culture expeditions to Mexico. This Spanish programme is Māori ingenuity at its finest.

Māori are a creative, innovative and adaptable culture. It is exciting to see that the Māori economy is blossoming and now estimated to be worth around 37 billion dollars. I think that if Māori want to be truly global than we need to join the rest of the multilingual world. We need to create and formalise respectful relationships with other countries and this can be achieved if we put more effort into foreign language programmes. From an Education point of view, I would seriously recommend that competent bilingual English and te reo Māori students learn a third language. I would also advocate for all Kura Kaupapa Māori to offer an additional language to their students. Research clearly shows that there are many advantages to those who speak multiple languages such as building your multitasking skills, staving off Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the improvement of your memory and decision making. We also know that learning a further language enhances job and education prospects which can only be beneficial for our people. Let’s not forget our Māori battalion tūpuna that vigilantly fought in the Second World War came back to Aotearoa conversing and singing in Greek and Italian. Buona Notte Mio Amore anyone?

*************

Will Flavell (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whatua and Ngāti Maniapoto) is the Head of Māori Studies at Rutherford College and Elected Member to the Auckland Council Henderson – Massey Local Board.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Supreme Court Is A Bigger Threat Than Trump To US Democracy

If you need a chilling reminder of how weirdly different the United States is to New Zealand…then abortion rights is the place to start. Last Friday, in a case called Hopkins vs Jegley , the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of the ... More>>


The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

Dunne Speaks: It's Time For Matariki Day

The period of Matariki, the celebration of the Māori New Year, which began earlier this week, is being celebrated increasingly as an important national event. While many other countries have their own form of New Year celebrations, Matariki is uniquely ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-Opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>