National | Māori

Te reo Māori on shaky school grounds under National

“We mustn’t weaponise the language to divide New Zealand.”

The move to make te reo Māori a core subject in primary schools is under threat, should National form the next government.

That comes after the future of te reo was the main agenda of a debate between some of the major parties ahead of this year’s general election.

Representatives from the Greens, Te Pāti Māori, NZ First, Labour, and National gathered to discuss issues facing the language.

Tama Pōtaka, National MP for East Hamilton, says the language shouldn’t be forced on to people.

“We do not support the teaching of te reo Māori in every school, in every classroom, to every student.”

Labour’s Te Tai Tokerau MP and cabinet minister, Kelvin Davis, says te reo is a treasure and must be supported in primary schools.

Nats, NZ First opposed

“We agree with the words of Sir James Henare, ’the language is the life essence of Māori existence’.”

Under Labour the government launched the Te Ahu o te Reo initiative, to develop teacher competency in te reo, with a goal to make te reo a core subject by 2025.

“The amazing thing is more than 10,000 teachers have taken part in Te Ahu o te Reo and now they are teaching te reo in the classroom.”

But it’s not only National that isn’t supportive of the move to have te reo as part of core subjects along with English, math, and science.

Former MP and cabinet minister, Northland NZ First candidate Shane Jones says there are more important things for children to learn at school, and language has become a divisive topic under Labour.

“What we want, more than anything else, is for children, boy or girl, to be able to count, read, and write.”

“We mustn’t weaponise the language to divide New Zealand.”