Call for Te Reo to become second language for all
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