Election 2014

10 Nov 2011

Maori Party pushes for all schools to teach Te Reo

2:21 pm on 10 November 2011

The Maori Party wants to make it compulsory for all schools to offer Te Reo Maori by 2015.

To achieve its goal, announced as part of its education policy, the party would try to attract 200 Te Reo speakers to the teaching profession through a bonding scheme.

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Maori Party education spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell told Morning Report the party hasn't costed the policy, but he says it's all about the revival and survival of Te Reo.

Mr Flavell says he doesn't believe there would be a backlash against the party over the policy, as people have moved from the debates of the past over the use of the Maori language.

The party's Te Tai Tokerau candidate Waihoroi Shortland says children will see learning Te Reo as another interesting challenge.

He says the policy would be introduced in such a way as not to frighten people.

"Let's put a programme in there that offers it up, that doesn't differentiate about who can have it. Our belief is that in the child's world it's just another interesting challenge."

Mr Shortland says by the time people are adults they become "resistant to anything else".

The policy was launched at Hato Petera College on Wednesday. A member of the school's board Terry Dunleavy says knowing a little about Te Reo Maori would help all New Zealanders to better understand the country, if only to know what the names of places mean.

Post Primary Teachers Association President Robin Duff says having all schools providing Te Reo in three years is probably possible, but will be expensive.

He says the professional training that would be needed would have a huge cost associated with it and there have traditionally been difficulties recruiting in Te Reo.

Te Reo decision up to schools - National

National Party education spokesperson Anne Tolley says it's up to schools whether they offer to teach students Te Reo Maori.

She acknowledges there are not enough Te Reo teachers at the moment and says National plans to concentrate future recruitment on getting more Maori and Pasifika teachers into the profession.

Mrs Tolley says schools make their own decisions about the subjects they offer, and should be talking to their communities.

ACT Party leader Don Brash says for most New Zealanders Te Reo is substantially irrelevant and learning languages such as Spanish and Chinese are more important to the country's future.

Labour's education spokesperson, Kelvin Davis, says overall, he quite likes the Maori Party policy, but he says as soon as you add the word compulsory, people like Don Brash speak out and polarise the debate.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says Te Reo is an official language of New Zealand and it is appalling Dr Brash is reluctant to accept this.

The Maori Party co-leader says his party's education policy recognises Te Reo is a birthright of all Maori children and it's appropriate for the education system to support the revitalisation of the language.

The Mana Party says the Maori language should be compulsory until Year 11.