Call to have Maori language housing clusters

7:40 pm on 18 July 2016

The New Zealand Māori Council (NZMC) believes new Māori Language legislation should take into account urban Māori speaking communities.

Owen Lloyd, of Tairawhiti District Maori Council.

Owen Lloyd, of Tairawhiti District Maori Council. Photo: RNZ / Gareth Thomas

New Zealand Māori Council deputy chair Owen Lloyd.

The council said Māori housing clusters, with those committed to speaking te reo, should be an important part of the new Māori language strategy.

The NZMC said Māori lived in papakainga in rural areas where te reo was the primary language, but the rural papakainga could not be maintained due to legislation such as the Town and Country Planning Act 1952 and Maori Housing policies.

This legislation requires that Māori move to urban areas in order to build with State Advances or Māori Housing loans.

The council also said because whanau could not rebuild in their papakainga because of planning laws requiring the sole ownership of a farm, many had to leave their rural homes for the city.

Those moving to urban areas, said the NZMC, were pepper-potted throughout so that the language had little chance of survival.

New Zealand Māori Council deputy chair Owen Lloyd said the rural concept of a small community in an urban environment would help revitalise te reo.

"When you put it into a community and have a group of Māori speakers and families speaking their language and associating it with the way they live and their language complementing each other, the chances for that language are a lot more stronger."

Mr Lloyd said the practicalities still needed to be worked out.

"The concept itself is an innovative approach because things Māori are interconnected, like housing and the language."

The NZMC is asking the government to restore the balance with state assisted subdivisions and buildings,or home purchases to create group housing, particularly near marae or other cultural facilities with preference for those committed to recreating Māori speaking communities.