Māori Party launches Te Reo Policy at NZFW

By Heeni Brown

Will the Māori Party's Te Reo Māori Policy be able to lift the Māori language?  The latest statistics suggest only one in five Māori are able to speak their native language. 

One part of the policy says it should be compulsory for te reo Māori to be available in all early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools, but students won't be made to learn te reo Māori.

Tāmaki candidate for the Māori Party, Tunuiārangi McLean says, 'It's just a start, but our desire is to make it compulsory for everyone to learn.'

The Māori Party continues to support the passing of the Te Reo Māori Bill, which gives Te Mātāwai the authority to drive the Māori language strategy on behalf of iwi, hapū and Māori, and also brings the Māori Language Commission, Te Māngai Pāho and Te Pūtahi Pāho under the one umbrella.

Māori language expert, Pania Papa says, "I can see the potential in the new bill, and while people don't agree with the new strategy, the good thing is that it's new and it's something we've never explored."

In other parts of the Māori language policy, Pania Papa, who specialises in broadcasting and education, says those parts have already been achieved.

"It may not be the heart of the policy, but some parts have already been achieved.  We've already established the Centre of Māori Excellence - Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo, and some no-fee programmes have already been established as well," she says.

Mr McLean says the Māori Party needs to be at the table with the Govt for the Māori language to survive.

However, Papa says we shouldn't just rely on that alone for the survival of the Māori language.