Te Pāti Māori slams Kelvin Davis' stance on compulsory Te Reo Māori

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Despite new research that suggests New Zealand is ready for compulsory te reo Māori in schools, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis is doubling down, saying the country is not ready.

But Te Pāti Māori has since come out, urging the associate education minister to get on with it.

Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Māori chief executive Ngāhiwi Apanui doesn’t agree with Davis' stance either.

“Ko matou e titiro ana ki ngā tatauranga e kōrero mai ana ki a mātou, e hika mā!, kua tae te wā.”

“When we look at what the data tells us, it shows that the time is now,” he said.

He says there is mounting evidence to show the eagerness of wider New Zealand to get involved.

MPs disagree with Kelvin Davis' stance on having Māori compulsory in schools

'Bowing to pressure'

“I tera tau i kī mai tā mātou rangahau i te taha o Colmar Brunton 83 ōrau o Aotearoa katoa e tautoko ana i te reo Māori hei wāhanga matua o tō mātou tuakiritanga.”

“Last year we did a survey with Colmar Brunton and found 83% of New Zealanders agreed that te reo Māori is a part of our identity,” he said.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the minister has taken the stance because of the election next year.

“They're getting ready for elections and are bowing to public pressure. The public pressure isn't from tangata whenua, and that's a real shame.”

Just this week Stats NZ released its well-being report, which found that three in five New Zealanders support te reo Māori as a core subject in primary schools.

NgArewa-Packer urges the minister to get on with it.

'If not now, then when?'

“Aotearoa is not only ready for mātauranga Māori in education, it should be across everything. If not now, then when?” she asked.

The minister was not available for an interview but in a statement said: "What I don't want is for the path we are on to be derailed by the political backlash we would likely face if we forced through a curriculum change now. Growing teacher capability will see a reo Māori growth."

He commended the efforts to get the country to this point and says the government has been a big proponent of increasing Māori language and culture within the school system.

Ngarewa-Packer isn’t convinced.

“It's disgusting that he is making that as an excuse for not having any progressive strategy and that's the real problem,” she said.