Māori Party pledges to change New Zealand’s name to Aotearoa, Greens, Labour spell out te reo Māori policy

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The Māori Party is pledging to officially change the country’s name from New Zealand to Aotearoa and replace Pākehā place names with their given Māori names.

Māori language week parade in Wellington

A banner outside Parliament during te wiki o te reo Māori – Māori language week – in 2019. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

In an announcement today, the first day of te wiki o te reo Māori, Waiariki candidate Rawiri Waititi said it was a bold move towards making te reo Māori a language for all of Aotearoa.

“It is unacceptable that only 20 percent of our people can speak their own language and that only 3 percent of the country can speak its official language. We need to be doing more at a systemic level to protect and promote the reo of Aotearoa,” Waititi said.

The Māori Party also aims to establish a Māori Standards Authority which will have legislative power to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards.

Other parts of the policy include requiring all state funded media broadcasters to have a basic fluency of te reo Māori if they wish to continue working in the industry.

“Wakatanay (Whakatāne) and Wongarey (Whangārei) are no longer acceptable over the media air waves. We expect better,” Waititi said.

Its policy includes:

  • Change New Zealand’s name to Aotearoa by 2026
  • Replace all Pākehā place names, cities and towns to their original Māori ingoa by 2026
  • Invest $50 million into the establishment of a Māori Standards Authority; an independent statutory entity whose role will be to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards, including the monitoring and auditing of language plans
  • Establish Te Marama o te Reo Māori
  • Double Te Mātāwai funding ($28m)
  • Remunerate Primary and Secondary schools and kaiako based on their competency of te reo Māori
  • Ensure that te reo Māori and Māori History are core curriculum subjects up to Year 10 at Secondary Schools
  • Invest $40m for early childhood to secondary school kaiako to develop their reo
  • Require all primary schools to incorporate te reo Māori into 25 percent of their curriculum by 2026 and 50 percent by 2030
  • Invest $20m into the development of te reo Māori resources
  • Require all state funded broadcasters (workforce) across all mediums to have a basic fluency level of te reo Māori
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Green Party calls on government to walk the talk

Te Pāti Kākāriki (the Green Party) also used today as an opportunity to call on the government to step up their game on their commitment to te reo Māori.

It is calling for te reo Māori to be made a core school subject up to Year 10.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says the government must make te reo Māori a core curriculum subject if it is serious about integrating te reo Māori into schools by 2025.

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Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Green Party wants te reo Māori to be universal in schools by 2030 – which it says was developed with Māori educators, language experts, and teacher unions.

“We recognise that teaching te reo widely will require more teachers. That’s why we want te reo Māori courses, up to level five, added to the list of subjects in the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund,” Davidson says.

“This would mean people who lost jobs due to Covid-19 could retrain, with the aim of eventually teaching te reo Māori. They could also apply those skills to mahi throughout the public and private sector.”

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Although she is pleased Labour is on board with making Matariki a public holiday, Davidson wants the government to show a commitment to protecting tikanga Māori by going a step further and agreeing to add it to the core curriculum.

Labour Party committed to revitalisation of te reo

Maihi Karauna is the Labour Party’s strategy, with the goal of achieving 1 million te reo Māori speakers by 2040.

“This government is committed to recognising tikanga, mātauranga and te reo Māori as part of New Zealand’s national identity – it is what makes us unique. Making New Zealand history compulsory in schools, support for Te Pūtake o te Riri and initiatives like this demonstrates this commitment to strengthening as a country,” says the party’s spokesperson for Māori development, Nanaia Mahuta.

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Labour Party spokesperson for Māori development Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ

About 1000 teachers, support staff and school leaders graduated from the programme, Te Ahu o te reo Māori – a programme to train staff to reach the goal of integrating the language into all learning by 2025.

There was $108.4m set aside in this year’s budget to expand delivery of Te Ahu o te Reo Māori nationwide over the next four years.

Labour party deputy leader Kelvin Davis says: “This will strengthen the capability and confidence of up to 40,000 of our education workforce to successfully integrate te reo Māori into all students’ learning.

“Initiatives like Te Ahu o te Reo Māori, along with the $230m increased support for Kōhanga Reo in the last two Budgets, reinforce this government’s commitment to revitalising te reo Māori.”

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