No compulsion


I read an interesting opinion piece on Stuff today. Quote:

I know people who are savages.

These people drive their cars, eat icecream, spend their days Facebooking, scrapbooking, watching television and grumbling at their wives or husbands. They go to work, come home, take their dog for a walk. You might even be one of them.

But despite every thread of civilised cloth on their backs, these people have a set of primitive beliefs stretching back centuries.

Māoris, they think, are gonna steal their souls. End quote.

In my view, starting off by calling the people whose behaviour you are trying to change “savages” is probably not a great strategy. Just think about how well Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment went down in the US election. Quote:

The data is in, and it’s time to be blunt. The number of people in New Zealand able to speak te reo Māori is declining. End quote.

Well, knock me down with a feather. Te Reo Maori is dying out because Maori people no longer speak it. Quote:

As soon as this land was belatedly discovered by Pākehā, the word “compulsory” was taught to Māori.

Occupation was compulsory. Land was compulsorily acquired. Māori were compulsorily removed and many were compelled to drop dead if they disagreed. Language was compulsorily forgotten.

Māori have had generations of the c-word. And not the gentle, hand-in-the-small-of-the-back compulsion endured by Pākehā under the state. Maori got slapped around the face with both the carrot and the stick of another c-word – colonisation.

This year we have a hint of rebalance, the suggestion of compulsory te reo in our schools by the Greens and a couple of Labour MPs, and for some people the primitive fears resurfaced. These worried people are our savages. End quote.

I wonder how long we will have to keep reliving the events of 180 years ago. I wasn’t there. No modern-day Maori was there either. I’m fairly sure I had a relative in the Battle of Waterloo but I’ve managed to get over it. Quote:

I can’t understand the primitive fears of these people. They hate a language so much that they refuse to be described by even the simplest of its words. To have such beef with words, let alone the entire culture they contain, is exhausting nonsense. End quote.

Speaking of exhausting nonsense… I have news for the writer of this article, Joel Maxwell. I do not hate the Maori language. Far from it. I simply have no desire to learn to speak it myself so my attitude is basically one of indifference. I think you’ll find that I am not alone. Quote:

Anyway, is it just me, or are the reo policies in the news some of the biggest changes planned for education in decades? Even the Māori-lite policy outlined by Labour, presumably building a workforce of reo-knowledgeable teachers to allow universal availability by 2025, is an astonishing commitment. I love it. Once this is in place, making te reo compulsory in schools would be within reach.

That a couple of Māori Labour ministers have mentioned the c-word as an inevitability (apparently a political gaffe) isn’t surprising.

It is a start to rebalancing those decades when te reo Māori was treated like a dog that had followed his master to school, and was kicked out the gate by teachers. End quote.

I have to say that compulsory Te Reo in schools does not fill me with excitement. As far as I’m concerned, it is about as important a school subject as underwater basket weaving. It is not a skill that will help the student to make his or her way in the world. Far from it. Quote:

The very act of making reo Māori available for all that want it in schools is revolutionary. It is a revolution of decency. Compulsory reo would help save a language and remake an entire nation in a single move. End quote.

A revolution of decency? Remake an entire nation? What exactly is this person smoking?

The writer misses an all-important point. A crucial point in fact. The language will survive if the speakers of the language want it to survive. A good example is the Welsh language. With 740,000 Welsh people, a concerted effort has been made to keep the language alive. But therein lies the difference. It is the Welsh people themselves who want to keep the language going. In our case, we are constantly being lectured by blinkered non-Maori like this one about the importance of us all speaking a language that means nothing to so many of us. Let’s face it. How many of us have ever met a Maori who doesn’t speak perfect English anyway?

I always thought the purpose of a language was for communication, such as learning French before going to France. Apparently, learning Maori is much more than that. It is revolutionary. For some reason.

But the final nail in the coffin for the complete idiocy of this article comes in the following paragraph: Quote:

We all fail to stick to our beliefs sometimes (I’ve often failed miserably in my life, and for someone on the Left it weighs heavy. When you fail on the Right, it actually makes you a better man. Go figure). But having to make a choice is compulsory. End quote.

Failing on the right makes you a better person? If that sums up this person’s understanding of human nature, then he has a very long way to go.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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