National and Labour won't commit to compulsory te reo Māori lessons

It might be Māori language week, but the major parties still won't commit to having every child learn te reo Māori.

The two major party leaders acknowledged Te Wiki o te Reo Māori on Monday, but neither Prime Ministerial prospect will make it compulsory.

Labour is citing a lack of teachers.

"Even if we wanted to, that wouldn't be something we could physically achieve," Jacinda Ardern says.

National says it will offer a second language in primary and intermediate schools but it’ll be up to schools to choose the language.

"We believe that many schools will wish to make Te Reo the second language," Judith Collins says.

The Māori Party says if it is elected they will rename New Zealand to Aotearoa. Waiariki candidate Rawiri Waititi announced the policy on Monday saying the party will ensure the changes are in place by 2026.

"It's a bold move towards making te reo Māori a language for all of Aotearoa. It elevates te reo Māori to its rightful place, in a system that has long undervalued its significance," he said in a statement.

But this is a no-go too.

"Not when I'm Prime Minister - it's New Zealand. And I'm very happy to also have it called Aotearoa," Collins said. 

"It's not something we have explored but I'm really encouraged to see people use it more frequently," Ardern said.

The Maori Party's also calling for Pākeha place names, cities and towns to be replaced with their original Māori names.