22 May 2018

'Nothing to fear' with free Māori lessons at Chch restaurant

10:44 am on 22 May 2018

A Christchurch restaurant putting on free te reo Māori lessons has been overrun with interest so will expand the program, the owner says.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Fush restaurant owner Anton Matthews, who had links to iwi Te Rarawa, was already speaking the language with his staff and customers and had a menu in both English and Māori. The first lesson attracted interest from 700 people.

He was now taking things to the next level and over the next four weeks would offer free lessons to anybody.

"They're interested. They want to learn; they want to be able to help their kids with their homework and ... they have realised there is nothing to fear," he said.

"I never ever thought in Christchurch of all places we would get this sort of response but we have, and I'm so chuffed."

Most customers had been overwhelmingly positive about it and there had been only a few doubters, he said.

"Perhaps I would suggest it's because maybe they realise they are in the minority now.

"Once upon a time, circa 2004 and Don Brash's Orewa speech, they were probably in the majority and they probably felt quite empowered to express that kind of rhetoric. But now I think what those people are finding is that the vast majority of people are willing to accept this and they are actually in the minority."