Monday, 30 April 2012

"The common curse of mankind, - folly and ignorance."

News Trade Minister Tim Groser is calling for Maori to be compulsory in schools should be trumpeted from the hill tops.
Instead I found replications of press releases on four websites, two stories on the TV3 site and one on MSN - hardly an overwhelming media response.
Speaking on TV3’s The Nation programme Groser said, in his personal view; he believed Maori should be taught to every five year old.

"This is turning the usual Pakeha argument on its head, because what I think should happen is that you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of biculturalism and more than one language, and then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit, ” he said.

Groser said children who become familiar with te reo at an early age could then master Chinese, Mandarin and any language they want in a move that could open doors for travel and work.
He acknowledged that it was not a conventional view of the Maori language issue but said “there's a whole lot of research to back this view up”.

Last year ahead of the election the Maori Party's policy was for te reo to be compulsory available in schools by 2015, however former ACT Party leader Don Brash said making te reo compulsory was pointless.

Yesterday New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said it would never work because parents wouldn't buy into it and there are more important languages for children to learn.

So the question that needs to be asked by the public should be: is te reo Maori worth investing in as a nation?

No one can deny that Te Reo Maori is a beautiful language, unique to New Zealand it sets us apart from the rest of the world. It is one of only two official languages in New Zealand ( the other is sign language) and full of poetry and imagery.

Pioneers such as Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi fought to bring the language back from extinction. It was a long fight and one that will never end.

At this stage the battle is being won with things like a portrayal of the Shakespearean play Troilus and Cressida in te reo opening the World Shakespeare festival at the Globe in London last week (receiving positive reviews in The Guardian) but is teaching the language to all five-years something that New Zealand taxpayers would be happy to invest in?
I was disappointed that there weren’t more stories about Groser’s comments out there this morning; shouldn’t our media be encouraging the debate? Granted it is Monday and many of the country’s journalists sometimes get weekends off to enjoy their lives but I am hoping that this story will grow legs and develop over the next couple of days because I think that it is a subject that could do with a little more time in the sun.

After all it was Shakespeare himself who said: "The common curse of mankind, - folly and ignorance."



  1. Pioneers such as Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi fought to bring the language back from extinction. It was a long fight and one that will never end.

    They didn't fight to get it back just to hand it over to Pakeha. Maori kids fail at pakeha schools, the result of this policy will be Maori kids failing to learn their own language while pakeha kids and teachers become the experts and use their expert knowledge of our own culture against us. Language is another thing white people can steal. Folly and ignorance - and good intentions.

  2. I agree with anonymous. Maori kids will not perform inmainstream schools as well as Pakeha. The answer is not compulsion but the creation of language communities, by encouraging tose who can speak to use the reo and by making it more common place. More radio, TV, newspaper usage. By usage I don't mean just greetings and interspersing Maori words into english speech. Karla, much as i applaud Te Haumihiata Mason for her translation of the Shakespeare plays, that is not the answer. You will know, the reo is thriving when you can order a coffee and a kai at your favourite cafe in Te Reo, and then have a debate with your mates about the economy and who is going to win the next election, again in Te Reo. Then you pull out your ipad and chose one of the half dozen or so political blogs written in Te reo for the latest political issues. Then you check out the Te Reo Maori version of the NZ Herald website.
    He moemoea ranei tenei? Ehara! Ko tenei te tino whainga o matou e mohio ana ki te korero, ki te tuhi i te reo Maori. Ka whakatutukitia ki te mea ka whakapono. Ehara i te mea ngawari! Ko ta Erima Henare, te heamana o te Taurawhiri, me whakahoki te reo ki te kainga, ki reira korerotia ai. Kei te tautoko au i tera. Koira te huarahi hei whainga ma tatou, ki te whakaora i te Reo. Nga mihi.