Fresh calls for Crown apology over canings for speaking te reo at school

Prince William
Prince William Photo credit: Image - Getty Images


A former Labour government Māori Affairs Minister, Dover Samuels, is renewing calls for Māori to receive an official apology from the Crown, for the generation who were beaten for speaking te reo in school. 

He said he and other students were caned when he attended the Waiharara Native School at Matauri Bay in the 1940s, when they spoke te reo Māori. 

Samuels said the beatings were so bad they left bruises and sometimes drew blood. 

Two years ago he told RNZ that when he started school, the only language he and other Ngāpuhi children knew was te reo Māori. 

But if they were heard speaking te reo, even in the playground, they were sent out by their teacher to cut lengths of supplejack and whipped with it - often until they bled. 

And while the cuts had healed, the hurt had not, he said. 

Samuels believes an apology should come directly from the monarchy as such beatings also happened under the Queen's reign. 

"Wouldn't that be wonderful if she commissioned Prince William, the future king, to come down to Aotearoa - and apologise to the Māori nation - wouldn't that be wonderful." 

He said it would be ironic if the incoming Governor-General, Dame Cindy Kiro - who is Māori - was asked to make the apology and he would prefer it came from Prince William.