Maori language in danger of dying out - tribunal

  • Breaking
  • 20/10/2010

By Janika ter Ellen

The Waitangi Tribunal says the Maori language is in crisis, and the Government is not doing enough to keep it alive.

It says Te Reo is dying out and needs life support, but the Government's Maori language strategy has done little to stop steadily declining numbers of Te Reo speakers.

On the streets of Porirua, Maori language clearly isn't widely spoken.

"People just don't have the courage, or can't be stuffed learning," one person told 3 News.

"I'm not really interested in cultural stuff," said another.

At best, it's a case of mixed priorities, and that's worrying the Waitangi Tribunal, which has released a preliminary report on Maori language. It says older Te Reo speakers are dying off, while the young aren't picking it up.

In the last 17 years, the number of Maori children in Maori language schools has halved.

The tribunal blames the decline on successive governments, asserting there have been "repeated failures of policy", while existing policy "does nothing to motivate Maori at the grassroots".

But the Maori Party says while the Government could do more, it not just a Government problem.

"Governments can't save things," says co-leader Pita Sharples. "Governments can provide funding, programmes and so on which can help, but at the end of the day, languages and culture is up to the people if they want it, or don't want it."

It's fair to say Maori MPs have mixed views.

"The Government's obviously not doing enough - it's not enough to leave it to Maori," says Greens co-leader Meteria Turei.

"Wouldn't have a clue, haven't read it," says Tau Henare.

Minister for Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson wasn't keen to comment:

"I've just started reading it," he tells 3 News. "I don't want to give comments on the hoof."

In 2006, Te Puni Kokiri estimated $226 million was spent on the retention of Maori language across all areas, including education, broadcasting, and community planning.

The report recommends more resources, vesting responsibility for Maori language in one body, and giving it increased powers.

3 News

source: newshub archive