Call for Te Reo to be­come sec­ond lan­guage for all

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABADIA

IT MIGHT be one of our of­fi­cial lan­guages but Maori lan­guage will not sur­vive un­less more New Zealan­ders start learn­ing it, a cross­sec­tor ed­u­ca­tional group says.

The Auck­land Re­gional Lan­guages Strat­egy Group is urg­ing the Min­is­ter of Maori Af­fairs and the Maori Lan­guage Com­mis­sion to in­clude a separately funded sec­tion in the draft Maori Lan­guage Strat­egy pro­mot­ing Maori for all New Zealan­ders.

Comet Auck­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Susan Warren, who co-or­di­nates the group, says it’s wor­ry­ing that Maori lan­guage is in de­cline.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2013 Cen­sus, 21.3 per cent of Maori can hold a con­ver­sa­tion about ev­ery­day top­ics in Maori, which is a 4.8 per cent de­crease from the 2006 Cen­sus.

There needs to be much more em­pha­sis in the strat­egy on the role of ed­u­ca­tion, she says.

‘‘We don’t just need fund­ing, we need pol­icy sup­port. There’s a lot of stuff in the strat­egy about iwi and whanau tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, which is re­ally good but they need to be re­sourced and sup­ported and gov­ern­ment has a re­spon­si­bil­ity there.’’

The cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits of learn­ing a lan­guage from a young age are clear and yet most of the lan­guage learn­ing is at in­ter­me­di­ate and high school lev­els.

‘‘It’s won­der­ful that there are some pri­mary schools which of­fer Maori im­mer­sion, bilin­gual and some­times en­rich­ment classes.

‘‘But un­for­tu­nately the vast ma­jor­ity of even Maori stu­dents are in full im­mer­sion English lan­guage classes with lit­tle or no op­por­tu­nity to learn the lan­guage through school.’’

Maori cul­ture and lan­guage is one of the key things that makes New Zealand unique, Mrs Warren says.

By learn­ing Maori New Zealan­ders can gain a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the cul­ture and there are also ben­e­fits to trade and tourism, she says.

‘‘The rest of the world lin­gual.

‘‘It’s only English speak­ers who

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