26 Nov 2014

Concern at corporate iwi role in te reo

5:05 pm on 26 November 2014

A Māori language group has told MPs that corporate iwi leaders cannot be put in charge of promoting te reo.

The Māori Affairs select committee at Parliament is hearing submissions on the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill which would establish an independent body, Te Mātāwai, made up of iwi representatives to promote the Māori language.

The chair of Umere, Maraea Hunia, told the committee today that the group is worried those representatives would only come from a small number of corporate iwi entities.

She said the iwi that the Government thinks of is often the Treaty iwi or corporate iwi entities, rather than the iwi many Māori affiliate themselves with.

Ms Hunia said iwi corporations have not shown a lot of interest in the Māori language because it is not a profitable business.

But a Poverty Bay member of the Iwi Chairs Forum says all sectors of Maori society would have a chance to select tribal representatives to sit on the language body - not just corporate iwi leaders.

Willie Te Aho said it was about giving the power back to iwi to decide.

"It's an opportunity for iwi instead of the Crown to appoint the people that represent their dialectal area, and it can't be assumed that that's going to be corporate entities. Under the Te Matawai proposal, it will actually be the iwi from the seven dialectal districts."

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