By: Simon Collins

Green Party Leader James Shaw, photographed here last Sunday, has unveiled plans to make te reo Māori compulsory in all schools by 2030. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Green Party has unveiled a $165 million plan to make te reo Māori a compulsory subject in all schools by 2030.

Party leader James Shaw announced the plan today at a hikoi marking 45 years since a petition signed by 30,000 people was presented to Parliament asking for the Māori language to be taught in schools.

The plan fills out details of a pledge the Greens made in February to campaign for te reo to be compulsory in all state schools in Years 1 to 10.

It proposes to make the language compulsory in Year 1 in 2020 and add one year level annually until all students to Year 10 learn the language by 2030.

Shaw said the policy would require an extra 2500 Māori language teachers​ as well as training for existing teachers, and would cost an estimated $165 million.

“The Green Party supports teaching te reo Māori to all children at school, and we have a plan that will achieve it within a generation,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that our indigenous language thrives, and introducing all children to it at school is one of the best ways to make that happen.

“Learning a second language has proven benefits for children’s educational outcomes, as does Māori students being immersed in their own culture.”

The policy package includes:

  • Establish a taskforce to implement te reo Māori as a core curriculum subject in all public primary and secondary schools from Year 1 to Year 10 by 2030.
  • Work with the education and te reo Māori sectors to create te reo Māori curriculum guidelines.
  • Develop a targeted strategy with incentives and scholarships to drive teacher recruitment.
  • Increase specialist te reo Māori teachers and kaiārahi i te reo.
  • Establish formal clusters of te reo Māori teachers, with facilitation and technical support from Language Advisors.
  • Negotiate to honour the Te Kōhanga Reo settlement claim (WAI 2336), and provide additional resource for kaupapa Māori education.

Shaw said he did not speak the language himself as he went to school in a time where it was not taught.

“When I was about 9, I asked the teacher if we could learn te reo Māori and I was scoffed at,” he said.

Coupled with the fact he spent much of his adult life overseas, Shaw had never learned to speak it, but hoped to begin learning.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said New Zealand was ready for its children to get what others didn’t.

“I think te reo’s time has come,” she said.

“We can’t wait for there to be teachers; we have to create those teachers.”

Shaw said the country was “hungry for it”.

Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson said she was still learning and “still claiming back te reo”.

“We, too, wish it had been in schools when we were in school.”

Source: NZ Herald


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