Compulsory Maori for all children under the next Labour government

Andrew Little has done it again: just blurted something without thinking it through.

Labour leader Andrew Little wants Te Reo Māori to be compulsory in New Zealand schools.

The country is been celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week over the past five days, and in an interview about it, Mr Little revealed his plans to take the language mainstream.

“I think it should be compulsory in primary school and certainly the first couple of years of secondary school,” he says.

The Labour leader says Te Reo Māori was woven into the fabric of his community in Taranaki during his childhood, and now believes the country is ready to incorporate the language even further.

“I am a strong believer in new generations, Pākehā, Māori, whatever, learning Te Reo as a way of understanding Māori culture in New Zealand,” he says.

“The one thing that distinguishes New Zealand around the world is our Māoritanga and I think those of us living here need to understand it.”

The question around Te Reo Māori being made compulsory in New Zealand has created much debate in the past.

Mr Little says there are no qualms about English being compulsory in schools so the same rule should apply for Māori.

Not compulsorily available; no, compulsory to learn it. 

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern agrees there are many pluses to learning Te Reo Māori.

“Most of my views around Māori being learnt in schools are based on my own disappointment over not being able to speak the language. When I was at school I really wanted to learn.”

Ms Ardern says she ended up learning Japanese.

“The fact I’ve studied Japanese longer than I’ve studied Māori is a huge disappointment for me and I hope that the next generations have a lot more proficiencies in the language.

“It’s not just about your ability to speak. It’s about your understanding of culture, history, and the ability that it gives you in other areas of the education system,” she said.
Mr Little says he still has a bit more work to do to improve his own use of Te Reo Māori.

“You can do a lot of practice with yourself but it’s then when you’re in front of a thousand eyeballs looking at you and you’re desperate to get it right it’s easier to trip over those words. But the more you do it the easier it becomes.”

I have an idea. Perhaps Labour should make all its questions during Question Time, including supplementaries and points of order, in Maori.  Surely that would be a small token of commitment from Labour before forcing a language on all our children.

How many of the missing million will vote for compulsory Maori? How many of the remaining Asian voters that Labour hasn’t already scared off will vote for compulsory Maori? How many grassroots Labour workers will vote for their kids to learn compulsory Maori?


– Newshub

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