Re: Ministry Leak: Staff Backlash After Te Reo Māori Scrubbed From Official Use Ahead Of New Government
Te Kaunihera Māori o Aoteaora (The New Zealand Māori Council) is concerned by news reports suggesting that a government ministry may have been removing Te Reo Māori from Government communications.
Te Reo Māori is a highly prized taonga of Māori. As such, there is a positive obligation on the Crown to take steps to preserve Te Reo and protect the right of Māori to continue to use it as their principal language. This has been acknowledged by past governments and affirmed before the courts. Māori also have an equal right to access, and to participate in, government.
The gradual inclusion of Te Reo in all forms of communication at all levels of government has been an essential element of meeting these obligations.
Parliament has recognised this need in legislation. Te Reo Māori has been declared to be an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand. That legislation also cemented the right of Māori to communicate with government in Te Reo, and established a Māori Language Commission with the express purpose of developing policies to make the integration of Te Reo as an official language a practical reality.
The use of Te Reo has always been
driving by ideas of inclusion, not exclusion. However, we
are aware that people of all races who did not have access
to Te Reo education can feel disconcerted by its growing
We are also conscious of the rhetoric from some of the candidates in the recent general election going so far as to describe the use of Te Reo by government as its “weaponisation”. The Council believes such statement take advantage of these feelings of unease and misleading people about the nature and purpose of the use of Te Reo.
It is important that our public officials remain unaffected by this demagoguery. Short of a legislative change, any policy that seeks to reverse the integration of Te Reo Māori as an official language would be plainly unlawful. Any such moves would be a breach of the Crown’s obligations under Te Tiriti.
We seek a formal response from the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that no such measures are to be taken at the Ministry. And we publicly give notice that the Council stands ready, as it has done in the past, to take action to fight for the protection of these important rights.