Celebration as Māori language bill passed

11:49 am on 15 April 2016

The reo Māori bill was passed in Parliament last night and will be enacted in both Māori and in English, with the reo Māori version prevailing as law.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The bill is intended to reinforce that the Crown and Māori will work together on the revitalisation of the Māori language.

The new Te Ture mō te Reo Māori 2016 (The Māori Language Act 2016) will establish Te Mātāwai, an organisation made up of iwi, urban and Crown representatives, and Māori language stakeholders.

Te Mātāwai will act on behalf of all Māori and provide leadership regarding the health and well-being of the Māori language.

Even though there was much celebration about the passing of the bill in the house, Labour MP Kelvin Davis said the celebration would be in its results.

"Every three years the number of speakers decline by 1 percent so in the next 3 years we expect not just to reverse that 1 percent decline we actually want to see a 1 percent growth -actually, we want to see more than a 1 percent growth."

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the bill was not an easy fix but a new pathway.

She also said people had been protesting and fighting for many years to get te reo Māori recognised and now they had been given the money and mana under Te Mātāwai.

"Kua riro i a tatou te putea me te mana i roto i te Mātāwai."

Hui were already being held across the country to select members for Te Mātāwai, which would be ready to start operating by the end of the year.

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