18 Dec 2013

NZ parliamentary inquiry into Pacific languages called a death sentence

10:01 am on 18 December 2013

The outcome of a parliamentary inquiry into Pacific languages in early childhood education in New Zealand is being called a death sentence for some languages.

A majority report by the education and science select committee has found the Government has no legal obligation to promote Pacific languages or Pacific-language education.

An Auckland University lecturer, John McCaffery, says the report ignores overwhelming evidence of the benefits of bilingual education.

He says it also ignores evidence that communities on their own cannot maintain and revive minority languages.

"This was the last roll of the dice for Cook Island maori and vagahau Niue [Niuean language] , and without urgent government intervention those languages will cease in this generation, the research evidence on that is very clear. It is a death sentence in essence."

John McCaffery says it's clearly a Government report because the opposition Labour and Green parties both issued dissenting minority views.