Time to support te reo Māori as a core subject and as a medium of instruction

On the 50th anniversary of the Māori language petition, the Green Party is calling on the Government to make te reo Māori a core curriculum subject in mainstream schools and to support Kaupapa Māori education groups.

“It has been 50 years since the Māori language petition was presented to Parliament. Now is the time to ensure all of our tamariki have the opportunity to learn our indigenous language,” says the Green Party’s education spokesperson, Teanau Tuiono. 

“The Green Party stands with Māori who have been fighting for decades to reclaim te reo and revitalise it for future generations in all education settings. We support the calls to ensure that Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa, Kura a Iwi and the Wānanga are properly funded. There needs to be a clear focus to find solutions designed by Māori, for Māori, delivered by Māori.

“Languages are embedded with knowledge and information about culture, place, and history. They carry meaning beyond the words themselves, and shape people’s ways of seeing and understanding the world around them. 

“For decades, successive governments actively pushed te reo Māori to the brink. It was literally beaten out of whānau; generations of Māori were denied te reo at school and denied it in their communities. Fifty years ago today, Māori activists started the fight back. The call to action - ‘My language is my awakening; my language is the window to my soul’ - has echoed across the last five decades and still rings loud today. 

“These young activists knew that our ability to flourish depended on our ability to express ourselves in our own language. The stand they made sparked a movement that continues to shape Aotearoa. Today we celebrate what they achieved. 

“Despite huge progress over the last five decades, there is still a long way to go before we have fully reclaimed our language.  

“The Green Party’s vision is of the Aotearoa our ancestors imagined when they signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Today we are calling on the Government to honour the 50th anniversary of the Māori language petition - and the 33,000 people who signed it - by making te reo a core curriculum subject for all mainstream schools and to properly fund Kaupapa Māori education pathways.

“A huge part of making this happen will be to support the teaching workforce who are proficient in Te Reo Māori. The Labour Government says that it cannot make te reo a core subject because there isn't the teaching workforce - and yet they are not doing enough to develop that workforce. 

“Language is at the core of identity for all people. It provides a connection between people, their families, their land, and their culture. Reclaiming te reo isn’t just about learning words stolen from us, it is part of the journey we are on to reclaim the story of Aotearoa as a colonised land,” says Teanau Tuiono.

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