16 May 2013

Te reo a winner

11:48 pm on 16 May 2013

The development of te reo is one of the big wins for Maori in this year's Budget.

In targeted funding, the Maori Language Commission is to get an extra $6 million in new money this year while in education, existing teaching scholarships will be ring-fenced for Maori language.

There's less money available to be spent on Crown-Maori policy advice, both from Te Puni Kokiri and the Office of Treaty Settlements.

For example, there's no new money for Treaty Negotiations.

There's a significant drop in the portfolio's budget from last year, when a large sum was set aside for Ngati Whatua.

Financial services firm, PwC, is calling the Budget middle-of-the road for Maori.

It says Maori will benefit from new mainstream housing and health schemes but it's not an exciting spending plan from the Government.

There are new spending priorities at Te Puni Kokiri and the Office of Treaty Settlements - which PwC says reflect a drive to take money from Wellington policy advice and give it to tribes and claimants.

New te reo strategy

The Government is committing new money to set up a Maori Language Research and Development Fund that will lay the foundation for a new te reo strategy, to be launched later this year.

Over the next four years It will be giving $8 million, which will be administered by the Maori Language Commission to strengthen the evidence base for effective Maori language policies and programmes.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the Maori language is still in a critical state but he is optimistic following the increase in funds which will boost Maori language resources.

He says supporting Maori language regeneration is paramount in the effort to promote Maori development.

Dr Sharples says he's pleased there are a range of measures across the Budget targeted towards Maori language.

Te reo scholarships

About 265 existing Teach NZ scholarships worth $4.7 million will be ring-fenced for Maori language medium education and secondary te reo Maori trainees over the next four years.

This money will be used to strengthen Maori language immersion education and build the number and quality of Maori language teachers.

The Budget also focuses on attracting more competent Maori language teachers with $12 million being allocated over the next four years to support and retain new teachers in Maori immersion education.

Dr Sharples says there is a concern that 70% of new teachers in Maori language immersion classrooms leave this specialist area in their first three years of teaching.

The Ngarimu VC Maori Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund will be given a one-off increase of $250,000, which recognises the difference the scholarships are making to provide education excellence among Maori students.

Ma Te Reo, which is a contestable fund to support community projects that increase the use and proficiency of te reo Maori, will get an increase of $2.5 million.

The Government is also considering transferring more than $2 million of the Ministry of Education's Community Based Language Initiatives fund to Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori.

As well, the Government is considering the idea of giving the Maori Language Commission an extra $15 million to fund Maori communities' engagement in learning te reo in homes and on marae, which is in line with the principal recommendation of Te Reo Mauriora.