Greens call for compulsory te reo Māori in schools
The Greens have revealed a new policy calling for te reo Māori to be taught in all New Zealand public schools from years one to 10.
The initiative would be a compulsory measure.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that our indigenous language not just survives, but thrives in Aotearoa, and introducing all children to it at school is one of the best ways to make that happen," Green Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson said.
"Despite huge progress over recent decades, the survival of te reo Māori is still not assured. In 2013, only 3.7 percent of New Zealanders spoke te reo Māori and the percentage of Māori who can hold a conversation in te reo Māori is falling," Ms Davidson said.
"Learning a second language has proven benefits for children, as does Māori students being immersed in their own culture.
"We believe we need a real commitment from government, and real leadership, to make this happen."
Labour shadow tertiary education minister Chris Hipkins said in the short term the party opposes compulsory te reo Māori in schools though they broadly support it being taught.
"I'd strongly encourage all kids to learn a second language, and te reo Māori is a good language to learn", he said but had concerns about a compulsory measure.
"If kids feels forced and don't want to learn it, it's likely to put them off all together".
Mr Hipkins also felt that making the measure compulsory is not currently feasible measure, and more training would be required for teachers before it could be possible to teach te reo in all schools.
He said though it could be an option to teach it in all schools, "We don't have the capacity to deliver it at the moment".
New Zealand EducationaI Institute Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart welcomed the Greens new policy.
"By normalising Te Reo Māori in our schools we help make learning more inclusive for Maori children, and we also help ensure our indigenous language stays truly alive for all of us," Ms Stuart said.
"However, there is a lot of work needed to make this possible. Many more fluent Māori speakers need to be attracted into teaching, and strategies and resources are needed to ensure that professional development and training is provided both at the pre service level, and for teachers in the classroom."
"This requires a plan, but also much more Government investment if it's going to happen."