4 May 2012

Maori language better off under National - academic

7:41 am on 4 May 2012

A professor of Maori language and customs says the National Party appears to have done more for revitalising Te Reo Maori than Labour.

Pou Temara of Waikato University made the comment after Trade Minister Tim Groser said in his personal opinion Te Reo Maori should be compulsory in primary schools.

He says he supports Mr Groser, and says it's interesting that a National MP made the comment.

Mr Temara says for many years Maori have been supportive of Labour.

But he says history appears to show that National have done more for Maori.

Mr Temara says there have been very important initiatives, such as the creation of kohanga, while National was in Government.

He says the Maori pre-schools operated successfully when the late Robert Muldoon was in power.

Labour's Maori Affairs spokesperson Parekura Horomia says he respects Mr Temara.

But he asks why kohanga reo schools are challenging Crown rules through the Waitangi Tribunal, if National is really supportive.

Mr Horomia says Labour has contributed to the revitalisation of te reo.

He says it helped establish Maori Television and create Ma Te Reo funding - financial aid programmes by hapu, iwi and communities to revitalise their own language dialects.