7 Apr 2015

Te Reo plan 'overlooks' urban Maori

6:49 am on 7 April 2015

Urban tangata whenua are being overlooked in the Government's plans for a new agency to lead the kaitiakitanga of Te Reo, the Māori Language Commission says.

Te Ururoa Flavell

Te Ururoa Flavell Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

It also says dialects are not being given enough attention, in the drive to put the guardianship of the language under a mostly iwi-led group called Te Matawai.

The opinions are contained in a Māori Affairs Select Committee review of the Māori Language Commission.

The Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has refused to comment on the Commission's views, or explain how the proposed strategy would be inclusive of urban Māori.

Maraea Hunia from Te Reo advocacy group Ūmere said as a Crown-funded organisation, the Commission had to be careful about what it said.

"Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori is a government organisation so therefore, as all public servants, its workers, I believe, are not permitted to say too much at all."

But she said groups like Ūmere could speak out freely.

"It ignores and overrides the concerns of the Waitangi Tribunal and has a huge impact on Te Reo Māori, because it claws back a lot of the hard-won status that was won after the Privy Council found the Crown was culpable for losses to Te Reo Māori".

Last week [Thursday] a cross-party group of MPs decided to take a wait-and-see approach to proposed changes to legislation governing the future direction of Te Reo Maori.

Members of the Maori Affairs Select Committee said it was going to hold off from considering the Māori Language Bill until a government-appointed advisory group had reported back to the Maori Development Minister.

However, the politicians have asked the group to think about a number of factors, including the role of iwi, Maori and the Crown; the future role of the Maori Language Commission; public accountability; and how the education sector fits in to the wider plan.

The Maori Language Advisory Group is due to report back to the Minister at the end of May.

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