Piripi argues Te Mātawai representation more than fluency

By Harata Brown

Former CEO of the Māori Language Commission Haami Piripi says te reo Māori fluency should not be the main criteria for appointments to Te Mātāwai, the group providing iwi input into the Māori language strategy.

Piripi says Te Mātāwai appointments shouldn't be about oratory skills, but rather a person's track record in implementing successful Māori language initiatives.

“Candidates need to know about the language and must also be passionate about reviving it.”

Urban Māori leader Willie Jackson is the first appointment to Te Mātāwai, the new legislative entity responsible for revitalising te reo Māori.

Mr Piripi says the appointment was a good choice given Jackson's commitment to learning te reo Māori.

“He has been able to utilise the language in a conversational manner. I have seen him teaching te reo and the Māori culture. He's also been supportive of iwi radio, which has flourished throughout the nation.”

Iwi are set to appoint seven of the 13 representatives to Te Mātāwai. 16 iwi, including Mr Piripi's iwi of Te Rarawa, have been tasked with appointing the Tai Tokerau/Tāmaki representative. The participation of at least 60% of the iwi cluster is needed to constitute a selection group.

”It may be a difficult task given that there are so many iwi, but we must all have one voice and one dialect.”

All Te Mātāwai members are set to be selected by the end of July. Their first meeting is expected to be held at the end of October with operations likely to be implemented by the end of this year.