Police say incorporating te reo Māori helps fight crime, seek total immersion recruits

In Aotearoa, the police are adopting te reo Māori as more than just a nod to diversity.

They've found it useful as a crime fighting tool and say students from Kura Kaupapa total immersion schools could be crucial to the future of the force. 

For more than 25 years Police have supported Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, but now Te Reo is a permanent part of police structure from the bottom to the top.

"I think as an organisation and as tangata whenua and as a model for other indigenous communities worldwide," says Deputy Police Commissioner Te Wārihi Haumaha.

"I think we are world-leading in this way."

Earlier this year police launched their first official Te Reo app called Eke Tangaroa, which teaches everything from greeting in Te Reo to reciting a prayer in Māori, and of course, pronunciation. 

It's now embedded on 11,883 police mobile phones. 

"It's quite exciting for those who are first-time learners of te reo Māori," says Haumaha.

The aim is to bring down barriers that exist between police and Māori.

The leader of the Counties Manukau East Area says Te Reo can be a tool for crime fighting. 

"Having the ability to speak Māori is being able to de-escalate something really really quickly that could've gone wrong," says Area Commander Scott Gemmell.

"So, I see having that language basis absolutely important."

Also important is building capacity. Police still want more Māori to join them, but Gemmell is focussed more on those who have been schooled in total immersion, saying they are the future officers needed now. 

"Mena ka hiahia rātou ki te uru ki roto i ngā whare pirihimana o te motu nei he wāhi āhuru mō rātou," says Gemmell, which translates to: "If they wish to join the Police they will see it is a safe place for them to join."