28 Aug 2014

Make Te Reo available - Maori Party

10:08 am on 28 August 2014

The Maori Party says it wants to make Te Reo compulsorily available in all schools.

Rangi McLean

Rangi McLean Photo: supplied

Te Reo Rangatira has been a big political issue this election, with some candidates making it one of the main points of their campaigns.

Maori Party Tamaki Makaurau candidate Rangi McLean launched the party's policy at New Zealand's fashion week in Auckland yesterday, where he said he liked to think of Te Reo as "being back in vogue".

The policy includes making Te Reo available in all early childhood centres and primary schools - but not compulsory.

Mr McLean said the party wanted to increase the funding for Maori language teacher trainees, in order to make it easier for it to be taught in schools.

He said it would see what the uptake of Maori was in Puna Reo and primary schools before expanding it further.

According to Census 2013, the number of Maori able to hold a conversation in te reo Maori has dropped to one in five from one in four in 2006.

Mr McLean said that showed previous Maori language plans clearly have not worked. He said he wanted to see whanau, hapu and iwi rise to the challenge and lead the revival of the beautiful language.

He said the Maori Party was proud of the new Maori Language Strategy, which will include setting up Te Matawai - a tribal-led body overseeing the Maori Language Commission and Te Mangai Paho.

The party's policy also includes the establishment of a Te Reo Maori Centre of Excellence and support for the passing of the Maori Language Bill, which will give effect to the Maori Language Strategy.

Currently, it is not compulsory to offer Te Reo in schools and Maori curriculum sits within the Learning Languages area of the curriculum.

National's view unchanged

The National Party is sticking to its position that learning Te Reo should be voluntary in schools.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said it had always been National's position that Te Reo and other languages should only be an option.

She said it was an ongoing challenge to attract Maori teacher trainees into the profession.

Ms Parata said as Minister she had made more scholarships for Te Reo-speaking trainees and created more resources to support Maori teachers.

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