Mark Richardson's passionate push for compulsory te reo Māori stuns co-hosts

Mark Richardson says it's vital the Māori language is "forced down" Kiwis' throats, or it will die.

"The language is an endangered species," the AM Show sportsreader told viewers on Monday morning. "When you get an endangered species, certain things happen that are mandatory - I think it needs to happen with this language."

The Government has set a goal of 1 million speakers of Te Reo by 2040, and is currently taking public submissions on its draft strategy to achieve it.

While it's not yet Government policy to make it compulsory in schools, Education Minister Chris Hipkins is sympathetic to the idea and the Greens are also keen.

And they've found an unlikely supporter in Richardson, better known for his right-of-centre views.

"Just because I'm white, middle-aged and a National voter, you think that I think a certain way - no. I'm a very fair individual," he said.

"It has to be forced down their throats or it dies, plain and simple, like the moa. Market forces killed the moa, and that was a shame."

Richardson's passionate push for Te Reo on Monday morning even surprised his co-hosts.

"I think you're mad," said Duncan Garner.

"I didn't expect you to say that, but I am wholeheartedly in agreement with Mark," said newsreader Nadine Higgins. "I reckon it has to be compulsory."

The AM Show Mark
Mark Richardson and Nadine Higgins. Photo credit: The AM Show

Garner said it's fine to learn at primary and intermediate, but should be voluntary at high school. Richardson said that wouldn't work.

"I learned Māori at primary school - there is only so much you can learn, your skills are only so high at that point in time to learn something just at school - and then you forget it. It has to be something you have to do right through until probably the age of 18. The whole way through.

"This is an endangered species - it's the native tongue of this land, and we have to protect it."

The leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges - a Māori - disagrees.

"I don't support compulsory, never will," he told The AM Show.