Review for Māori Language Bill is underway

By Maiki Sherman

A review is underway for the Māori Language Bill, commissioned by the Minister for Māori Development.

Te Ururoa Flavell announced the new plan in Rotorua for the controversial bill.

This bill has certainly come under pressure and the new Minister will want to avoid more of that.  Hence the establishment of an advisory group in the hope a solution will see it gain widespread support amongst Māori. 

As preparations got underway for the Māori Language Awards, the Minister was preparing to win over support for the new Māori Language Bill.  

Flavell says, “I have heard the issues, the concerns and the aspirations, hopes, that what is good about the Bill and also what is not good.”

Flavell agrees the Bill has its problems and that it was rushed. However, he doesn't agree the former minister failed to listen.  

“During his time it was important for us to first commit the Bill to the house and we achieved that. Now it is over to me to iron out the detail,” says Flavell.

The crux of the Bill will see the establishment of a board, named Te Mātāwai, which will include twelve members. Seven of whom will be chosen by iwi, three by Te Reo Tukutuku, and two by the minister.

Transferred from the Crown is the guardian authority over the Māori Language Commission and Te Māngai Paho. Disestablished is Te Pūtahi Pāoho. 

According to Flavell, “There are those who have objected saying some iwi are not ready for such an undertaking. What I'm saying is that may be so but let's leave it to the advisory group to answer.”     

Peeni Henare says, “Māori have aligned themselves as to whether they support this person or that person but haven't really scrutinised the Bill closely and so now that the elections have passed we need to focus on our language.”

The new Minister briefed Labour MPs who hold the Māori seats. Te Ururoa Flavell says that's what the people want is for them to work together.  

“Māori want us to sit together and work alongside one another as Māori in Parliament despite whether it's Labour or Māori Party so we are grateful,” says Henare.

“On Māori issues such as this, I see no problem in sharing information with them and also allowing them to provide feedback on things I can correct,” explains Flavell.

The submission period has been extended for the Māori Language Bill to December 5.