Kiri Allan hits out at 'tokenistic use' of te reo Māori after DoC email said she wanted English used in most circumstances

Kiri Allan.
Kiri Allan. Photo credit: Getty Images

Kiri Allan has hit out at "tokenistic use" of te reo Māori after an email sent from the Department of Conservation (DoC) - which until this week she was minister of - said she wanted English words used in most circumstances.

A screenshot of the email sent from a DoC manager was uploaded to social media and said that they were passing on "feedback" from the then-Minister about the "inclusion of Te Reo Māori in the material that we send over".

Allan has since said the email was "very wrong" and an "incorrect articulation" of any direction she's given.

The email said Allan didn't want to see Te Reo words used unless there was no English equivalent and the whole document was in Te Reo. Greetings and sign-offs had to be in Te Reo.

But Allan quickly clarified the email was "very wrong".

"[It is] an incorrect articulation of any direction I've provided and is absolutely inaccurate. FWIW [for what it's worth], I encourage Te Reo use but in no way will I tolerate tokenistic use of reo by govt agencies as an attempt to show govt depts are culturally competent," she tweeted.

In response to questions to DoC, government services director Lucy Alcock said the internal email posted to social media didn't sufficiently show Allan's position.

"Minister Allan was concerned that DoC's use of Māori language could read as cultural appropriation or tokenism. She was also concerned at inappropriate use of terms," she said.

"The internal email did not adequately explain the Minister's position or concerns. DoC is committed to being a good treaty partner including improving our use of Te Reo."

Allan was moved out of her role as Conservation Minister and into Justice Minister, after it was announced Kris Faafoi was leaving Parliament.