The National party’s policy came under attack last week when they included te reo and NZ sign language under a plan for every primary school student to learn a second language.

NZ Herald columnist and Villainesse blogger Lizzie Marvelly said National’s announcement “…spits in the faces of its Treaty partners”.

“When the Crown announces that it will fund language lessons for primary schools students in these terms: “Schools will choose from at least 10 priority languages, which we expect to include Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean, along with Te Reo and New Zealand Sign Language,” placing the two official languages of New Zealand at the end of the list and phrasing them as “along withs”, its view of Māori is quite clear,” she said.

Graham Cameron, in his blog First we Take Manhattan furthered slammed National’s lack of financial support of te reo Maori in schools.

“…to suggest that there is $160 million to invest in language education when te reo Māori initiatives received a measly $21 million over four years in the 2017 Budget…is insulting and demonstrates the National Party have no practical commitment to the revitalisation of te reo Māori,” he said.

The Greens, TOP and The Maori Party all want to introduce universal teaching of te reo in public schools. The Greens saying more is needed to be done to ensure the language survives.

“In 2013, only 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders spoke te reo Māori and the percentage of Maori who can hold a conversation in te reo Māori is falling. We have a responsibility to ensure that our indigenous language not just survives, but thrives in Aotearoa..,” Green MP Marama Davidson said.

The Maori Party agrees with the Greens on this, and are also keen to make te reo Māori and Māori history and culture core curriculum subjects in all schools.

They are committed to establishing a dedicated Centre of Excellence for research, development and teacher training for te reo Māori. The party wants to set up a fund to enable one person in every non-reo speaking whānau to study Te Reo Māori full time for two years at an approved reo wānanga or institute. They also plan on increasing the number of Teach NZ scholarships for Māori medium teachers who are teaching STEM subjects, te reo Māori and Māori history and culture.

NZ First in practical terms wants to develop national curriculum guidelines for te reo Māori in immersion schools; and wants to address the shortage in te Reo teachers by providing scholarships for te reo teachers. It also wants to explore new ways to fund Te Kohanga Reo.

Labour concurs with NZ First’s te reo teacher scholarships policy. Though it does not go quite as far as the Green and Maori parties in terms of the universal providence of te reo Māori in schools. It would like to make te reo Māori classes available in all secondary schools and in a move many in the industry will applaud wants to give all early childhood and primary school teachers an opportunity to learn te reo Māori. Labour also wants to pilot the establishment of traditional Wananga Māori to provide an opportunity for Māori to succeed as Māori.

The Act party does not have any policies relating to te reo Maori.


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