Reo Māori experts gather for Māori Language Summit

By Heeni Brown

For the sake of the language, that's the reason why Māori language experts have gathered for the National Māori Language Summit at Hopuhopu.

Te Ururoa Flavell's group, the Māori Language Advisory Group, are the first to deliberate regarding the new Māori language bill.

At the call of iwi-chairs, the national reo Māori summit was created and has found itself a name, and they've called themselves Te Tōuarangi.

The name comes with an ultimate goal to help the Māori Language Bill (Te Mātāwai) for Te Ururoa Flavell's Māori Language advisory. There are a total of five members who have the biggest job of resolving issues and findings for the Māori Language Bill. 

Te Tōuarangi will convene again in June, but in terms of the Māori Language Advisory Committee, they will need to complete their findings and recommendations before the Māori Select Committee meets again to discuss the Māori Language Bill.

It's at Te Tōuarangi, the national reo summit for reo exponents and enthusiasts. It's also a place to help Rawinia Higgins and the Māori Language Advisory Committee. 

She says, “Our job is to listen and see where the difficulties and thoughts are on the bill.”

According to Rahui Papa, one issue debated amongst these reo-extraordinaires is that the current Māori Language Bill (Te Mātāwai) doesn't have a broad enough view on the functioning of the Māori Language Commission, Te Māngai Pāho and Te Pūtahi Pāho.

Papa says, “Most people here want it to be extended to all government departments where those departments are budgeted to spend money on the Māori Language and to let the Māori Language Commission review whether or not their expenditure needs to be changed or has relevance and that's not in the bill at this stage.”

But the Māori Language Bill is only a small part of what's being discussed. The summit looks at the Māori language from a tribal level to a local level, with groups like Te Ataarangi, Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa, Kura-ā-Iwi taking up the bulk of discussion.

Erima Henare says, “Now we are about to come to a conclusion and come up with an outcome for our reo-experts in an attempt to help revive our language.”

Rawinia Higgins says, “Our job is to collate the thoughts and make recommendations to help the Māori Select Committee.”