Point­less ex­er­cise

Kapiti News - - Letters To The Editor -

New Zealand has a rep­u­ta­tion of a ‘give it a go’ at­ti­tude. This has led to some great achieve­ments over the years but can also bite us on the back­side.

Back in the 1960s when the Welling­ton to the Hutt Val­ley and Ngau­ranga Gorge mo­tor­way was be­ing built it was said that if a bridge built in Eng­land col­lapsed when put to use and bridges of the same de­sign and spec­i­fi­ca­tion built in US and Ger­many also col­lapsed New Zealand would still go ahead and try the same bridge.

The same at­ti­tude is alive and well to­day. Scot­land, Wales and Ire­land have all spent bil­lions try­ing to breathe life back into their an­cient lan­guages.

In Wales speak­ing Welsh was of­ten a re­quire­ment for se­nior man­agers for a while. In Ire­land Ir­ish Gaelic was com­pul­sory in schools.

How­ever, in all three coun­tries the lan­guage spo­ken in the res­tau­rants, pubs and mar­ket places is English. In fact, nowhere in the world where English has be­come the dom­i­nant lan­guage has a lo­cal lan­guage been brought back from the dead.

De­spite these ex­am­ples, New Zealand still spends be­tween $300 mil­lion to $400m every year try­ing to pro­mote the Ma¯ ori lan­guage to main­stream. Over the years many bil­lions of dol­lars have been spent on this fu­tile ex­er­cise with the re­sult that less than 1 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion are truly flu­ent in Ma¯ ori. The kicker is that all those bil­lions have not been spent for the ben­e­fit of New Zealand or even for the ben­e­fit of those who iden­tify as Ma¯ ori. The whole ex­er­cise has been for the ben­e­fit of politi­cians. REG FOWLES WAIKANAE

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