May 09, 2016
Being Maori more than words
Maori Party co-founder Dame Tariana Turia is rejecting suggestions fluency in te reo Maori should be seen as a mark of being Maori.
The question was raised by TV3’s The Hui current affairs show, with some participants saying Maori who could not learn the language were lazy.
But Dame Tariana Turia told Radio Waatea host Willie Jackson none of her contemporaries in her hapu spoke the language because their parents and grandparents had it beaten out of them at school.
She says she has always dismissed people who told her she’s not a real Maori because she doesn’t speak te reo.
"If I didn’t act in the interests of our people in everything I have done in my lifetime I would understand people saying things like that to me, but you’re no good to our people if you have the reo and you do nothing to advance us as a people. If you don’t fight for our rights of our people, if you don’t stand up for everything we are and what we believe in, having the reo, what’s the use of it," she says.
Dame Tariana says it’s her whakapapa that defines her as Maori, not her reo.
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