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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crown responsible for language demise

The Taranaki kaumatua who led the Waitangi Tribunal claim to have te reo Maori recognised as an official language says kohanga reo and kura kaupapa need a major injection of resources.

Huirangi Waikerepuru says the chapter of the Waitangi Tribunal's WAI 262 Claim report released yesterday is right to say the language is dying.

The Tribunal found the number of Maori children in Maori immersion education has been falling for the past decade, and it branded the language strategies of successive governments as a failure.

Mr Waikerepuru says resources need to be put wherever children can learn the language.

“In the homes, in the schools, in the playgrounds, on the maraes and all around us so we all have that responsibility but government has a bigger responsibility because the government has been responsible for the greater part of demise,” says Mr Waikerepuru, who chairs the Wellington Maori Language Board, Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo.


Labour Maori affairs spokesman, Parekura Horomia, says the turnout for yesterday's protests against the extension of the 90 day fire at will period topped the foreshore and seabed hikoi.

Mr Horomia says he was heartened by the strong Maori and Pacific island presence in the protests, because many of them work in areas being hardest hit by the government's policies.

“By joves the outpouring yesterday was huge, it was phenomenal, and people who had never been in a protest before and dare I mention it as big as the hikoi in one way but it was all around the country too, that was the difference you see,” Mr Horomia says.

He says the 400-strong protest in his home city of Gisborne was typical of many areas with high Maori populations.


Maori entertainer Anika Moa says she'd love to take her music to marae, but not in the near future.

The artist starts a 21-date tour of small and out of the way venues tonight in the new Mangere Arts Center.

She says with four albums now under her belt, she plans to records some songs in te reo Maori sometime soon.

But a marae tour might require a different sort of economics.

“When you're tour you tour to make a profit and when you work on marae there’s no way of making a profit from shows on marae apart from goodwill and koha because there’s no way you can charge people to come onto their own marae, you know what I mean,” she says.

Anika Moa plays the Leigh, Sawmill Cafe tomorrow night and the Colosseum in Tauranga on Sunday.


List MP Shane Jones says he intends to seek the Labour nomination for Tamakai Makaurau because the Maori Party has failed Maori voters in the country's biggest city.

Mr Jones, who has stood twice in the general seat of Northland, says his tribal elders have made it clear they don't want to see him in a head to head battle with Hone Harawira for Tai Tokerau, and his family doesn't want to move into the Manurewa seat being vacated by George Hawkins.

But he's lived in Auckland in the past, and he knows Maori voters there are still hurting at the way there were denied seats on the Auckland super city council.

“I personally feel that Dr Sharples and Tariana Turia, they rolled over too quickly on that one, and there seems to be a pattern, that whatever Rodney Hide holds out for when it’s anti-Maori, he tends to get. To me it makes a mockery of what Pita and Tari should be achieving,” Mr Jones says.

He says super city Maori representation should be based on the Maori electoral roll, rather than the mana whenua seats unsuccessfully promoted by the Maori Party.


The New Zealand Educational Institute says the time is right to make te Reo Maori a compulsory subject.

Maori manager Laures Park says the finding of the Waitangi Tribunal that urgent action is needed to save the language from extinction shows there is no longer any excuse for inaction.

She says the tribunal has shown that despite the rhetoric of successive governments, the official response to language revitalisation has been half hearted and inadequate.

“A lot of this has been voluntary and a lot of people have gone past the voluntary nature of the exercise and now they would like, ‘let’s just do this, we think it’s important enough for the sake of Aotearoa, let’s just do it,” Mrs Park says.

She says the Education Ministry has never tried to get on top of the problem of training up enough teachers of Maori to meet the demand in the school system.


The chair of the Raukawa Settlement Trust says today's final reading of a bill that gives the 20,000 strong iwi a say in the management of the Waikato River is long overdue.

Chris McKenzie, who was part of the ope who witnessed the debate in Parliament, says the tribal rohe borders the river from Atiamuri to Mangakino, giving the iwi an undeniable interest in the health of the awa.

He says sharing responsibilty for long term restoration with the Crown, local authories and the other iwi, including Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa and Waikato Tainiui, is the only way to restore the health of the North Islands' longest waterway.

“In the past we’ve been relegated to spectators in this process. We’ve been consulted but never have we sat as an equal partner so this will be a test for the rest of the country and I think that the eyes of the country will be on this process because if we can make this process work it is a clear pathway for the rest on the country in the settlements area,” Mr McKenzie says.

The river settlement will enhance the prospect of settling Ngati Raukawa's comprehensive land claims in the next coupel of years.


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