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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Compulsory reo would strain resources

Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson, Parekura Horomia, is warning that there could be resourcing issues which prevent making te reo Maori a compulsory subject in schools.

Educationalist Tamati Reedy, who is chairing a ministerial review on the Maori language strategy and sector, says he has long held that te reo should be part of the core curriculum.

But Mr Horomia says it has been a challenge to find enough teachers to service existing demand.

“I respect what Tamati says. I personally would be encouraged if we could do that but having been associate minister of education for nine years I know all the pressures and tensions and I want to make sure we get people who are good in their language and good in their English and neither half geared in both,” Mr Horomia says.

The Waitangi Tribunal says existing strategies aren't working, and the number of Maori children in Maori immersion schools and preschools is dropping.


The head of specialist services at the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind says more Maori need to take advantage of the foundation's services.

Veta Endemann says the foundation, which is celebrating its 120th birthday, has developed considerable expertise in finding ways blind or partially sighted people can increase their independence and self-sufficiency.

She says relearning small skills can make a huge difference in the lives of Kaapoo Kiwi, such as making a cup of tea without burning themselves, cleaning their house or catching buses.


The Medical Council's latest workforce survey has found the number of Maori and Pacific Island doctors has dropped over the past three years, from 3.1 percent of the total workforce to 3 percent.

Its chair, John Adams, says that's clearly not enough.

He says the health sector desperately needs a workforce that looks more like its client base.

“When a doctor is more comfortable with a patient, the outcomes are better. We are aware of the discrepancy between Maori health stats and European stats in New Zealand. We feel that not only do we need Maori doctors not only to be directly dealing with Maori patients but we need them to help the rest of us understand what we need to understand in order to treat all patients properly,” Dr Adams says

The Medical Council is continuing to look for ways to get more Maori into the profession.


The head of the ministerial panel reviewing the Maori language strategy says a strong message is coming from iwi and hapu that they should control how money is spent on te reo.

The panel has so far held six hui around the motu to gauge how effective government support for the language has been.

Professor Tamati Reedy says the hui all agreed more could be done with the estimated $226 million being spent now.

“It's a hard message for the Government to hear, particularly in this time of recession but I guess you can’t conduct the haka from Wellington and it’s being carried out in different parts of the motu. The haka is led on the ground where it is, and that’s what’s required in this instance in the revitalization of te reo Maori,” Professor Reedy says.

He hopes to speak to the Prime Minister after the panel reports to Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.


Former Maori affairs minister Parekura Horomia is defending the Iwi Leaders Forum against an attack from Rotorua lawyer Annette Sykes.

Ms Sykes used the annual Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in Auckland to brand the forum as a self-appointed elite who have never sought a mandate.

She says the forum deliberately bypasses traditional Maori leadership structures and disenfranches the majority of Maori.

But Mr Horomia says the leaders are well representative of their iwi, although the debate on what leadership is in Maori is a valid one to have.


Taonga puoro revivalist Richard Nunns says the blend of traditional Maori instrumentalists and electronic beats he's putting together should be a crowd pleaser at the next Womad festival in New Plymouth in March.

Nga Tae, or the colours, will take to the Brooklands Park stages alongside other Maori acts Maisey Rika and Trinity Roots and world music stars like the Afro Celt Sound System and the Juan De Marcos Afro Cuban All-Stars.

Mr Nunns says Nga Tae brings together singer Waimihi Hotere and fellow taonga puoro player Horomona Horo, who have extensive experience with moteatea, and electronic musician Paddy Free from Pitchblack.

He says it will appeal to the populist thrust of Womad.

Nga Tae and Maisey Rika are also among the acts from Aotearoa heading for next month's Australian World Music Expo, where they hope to pick up more work on the festival circuit.


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