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Party Commends Principled Position of Fire Service

Maori Party Commends Principled Position of Fire Service
Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party Co-Leader and Employment Spokesperson
Tuesday 6 November 2007

The actions of an individual fire-fighter in Canterbury in protesting about the use of two Maori words on his uniform (whakaratonga iwi), demonstrate the desperate need for Government to put more effort into promoting a unique piece of legislation passed some twenty years ago in 1987.

A firefighter in Leeston, Canterbury allegedly removed the two words from his uniform jacket, and was stood down from operational duties while the incident was investigated.

“The Maori Language Act 1987 passed into law that te reo Maori would be an official language of New Zealand” said Dr Pita Sharples, Co-Leader of the Maori Party.

“Perhaps if government hadn’t taken twenty years to release an education curriculum which finally, today, accords te reo Maori status as an official language, the Leeston firefighter might have had more awareness of the value of the Maori language”.

“I do, however, congratulate the New Zealand Fire Service on their commitment to upholding te reo rangatira” said Dr Sharples.

“I can also appreciate their decision to stand down one of their volunteers for both defiling his uniform and treating te reo Maori with such disrespect” said Dr Sharples.

“The Fire Service is trying to demonstrate respect for te reo Maori as an official language, as well as their commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi” said Dr Sharples.

In Article Two of theTreaty of Waitangi the Crown confirmed and guaranteed to Māori people, amongother things, all their taonga - and the Māori language is recognisded as one such taonga.

“Finally, I understand that as an equal employment opportunities organisation, the Fire Service is committed to ensuring Maori are attracted to join up as firefighters, kaiwhawhai ahi” said Dr Sharples. “Respecting the significance of te reo Maori is a crucial part of such an approach”.


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