2 Feb 2017

Greens push for compulsory reo Māori in schools

5:39 am on 2 February 2017

The Green Party has launched a policy to make te reo Māori a core subject in schools up to year 10, in a bid to to revitalise the language.

The Green Party launched a new policy to make te reo Māori a core subject at Finlayson Park School today.

The Greens launched their new te reo Māori policy at Finlayson Park School in Manurewa. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

The party said te reo Māori should be taught in all public schools and be made compulsory.

"Despite huge progress over recent decades, the survival of te reo Māori is still not assured, we have a responsibility to ensure that our indigenous language not just survives, but thrives in Aotearoa," said Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson.

According to the party, in 2013 only 3.7 percent of New Zealanders spoke te reo Māori, and the percentage of Māori who could hold a conversation in te reo Māori was falling.

The party has also launched an online petition to gain support for the policy, which won't be released until the Greens have feedback from hapū, iwi, parent, teachers and other community groups.

In 2015 the Green Party and New Zealand First proposed a select committee inquiry into the capacity to deliver te reo Māori to students.

"The government didn't think it was a priority and many of these questions remain unanswered," said Ms Davidson.

The te reo Māori policy was being spearheaded by the party's Māori caucus and they acknowledged finding and training te reo Māori teachers was a huge hurdle.

They also believed they would also be able to convince those who did not want it as a core subject that it would be beneficial to their children and the entire country.

The PPTA supported the Green's idea and had wanted te reo Māori as a universal subject since 2001, the teachers union said..

"Being able to learn te reo Māori will benefit every child in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Te reo Māori is part of the fabric of the economic, social and cultural history of all New Zealanders, said PPTA president Jack Boyle.

"Of course, having the right number of teachers of te reo is critical to the success of this policy. Currently the demand for teachers of te reo Māori outstrips supply."

The New Zealand Education Institute also supported the idea. "By normalising te reo Māori in our schools we help make learning more inclusive for Māori children and we also help ensure our indigenous language stays truly alive for all of us," said president Lynda Stuart.

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