April 06, 2016
Acknowledgement but no apology for reo beatings
A late addition to the Maori Language (Te Reo Maori) Bill will acknowledge the Crown’s past policies and practices concerning the Maori language have had a negative effect on generations of iwi and Maori.
Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell says Maori are familiar with the painful memories recalled by their grandparents’ and parents’ generations who were discouraged, and in some cases physically abused, for speaking te reo Maori at school or in public places.
He says the acknowledgement is consistent with evidence presented at Waitangi Tribunal hearings and Treaty settlement deeds that record the specific impact Crown’s actions have had on several iwi.
The amendment heads off what was likely to be an attempt by Opposition parties to have an apology included in the bill.
Labour's Maori development spokesman Kelvin Davis says a blanket apology for all Maori would have been appropriate.
Te Taura Whiri chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui says while the acknowledgement is welcome, what will count for the survival of te reo Maori is what the government does in future.
He says making te reo a core subject in schools with the same value and importance as English can help restore te reo Maori to its rightful place and positively address the decline.
Te Taura Whiri can continue to hold community Maori language classes and wananga, promote te reo at events, make more te reo TV programmes, apps and websites but those alone won’t increase the number of speakers required to revitalise the language.
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