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Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori

Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, January 16th, 2018 - 68 comments
Categories: bill english, Deep stuff, national, Politics, racism, racism, same old national, treaty settlements - Tags:

The language is the life force of the mana Māori.

I have met Bill English once, at Hoani Waititi marae in Waitakere last Waitangi day.  He initially impressed.  He was welcomed onto the marae formally and then spoke in te reo Māori.  His te reo was way better than mine which is improving but is still frustratingly poor.  I was pleased that he had made the effort.  I then met him face to face and the experience was very underwhelming but I was delighted that a conservative politician had made the effort to learn te reo Māori.

Which is why I am disappointed that he has engaged in a snarky dog whistle this morning and suggested that the Crown is doing all that it should to preserve te reo Māori and that it is somehow someone else’s language.

From Stuff:

“The language will be saved by the people who own it and love speaking it,” the National Party leader told The AM Show on Tuesday.

“Māori need to speak Māori if they want to preserve the language.”

A controversial new book, Killing Te Reo Māori, claims everything we’re doing to save the language is having the reverse effect.

Mr English says a statistic mentioned in the book, stating one in five Māori under the age of 30 speak Te Reo, is “probably higher” than expected.

“It’s promising.

“I think it’s doing a bit better… I don’t think it actually is failing, if anything it’s probably holding.

“The Government has some obligations through the treaty. It’s met them in my view. We’ve spent a lot of money on TV, on resources for schools and so on.

“Probably a bit more can be done with resources for schools and teachers, but in the end it needs people who want to speak it.”

“But the owners of it need to speak it and that is people in their households.

“You can’t rely on a Government and a bureaucracy to save someone else’s language.”

And the Crown promised when it signed the Treaty of Waitangi to protect all of Māori’s taonga.  Its breach in failing to support and sustain te reo Māori was recognised by the Waitangi Tribunal in 1986.

The Tribunal said:

The claimants have said to us that the Crown has failed to protect the Māori language (te reo Māori) and that this is a breach of the promise made in the Treaty of Waitangi.

Some New Zealanders may say that the loss of Māori language is unim­portant. The claimants in reply have reminded us that the Māori culture is a part of the heritage of New Zealand and that the Māori language is at the heart of that culture. If the language dies the culture will die, and some­ thing quite unique will have been lost to the world.

Our task has been to decide whether the Treaty has been broken in this respect, and if it has, what should be done about it.

The evidence and argument has made it clear to us that by the Treaty the Crown did promise to recognise and protect the language and that that promise has not been kept. The ‘guarantee’ in the Treaty requires affirma­tive action to protect and sustain the language, not a passive obligation to tolerate its existence and certainly not a right to deny its use in any place. it is, after all, the first language of the country, the language of the original inhabitants and the language in which the first signed copy of the Treaty was written. But educational policy over many years and the effect of the media in using almost nothing but english has swamped the Māori language and done it great harm.

We have recorded much of what we were told of the effect upon Māori children of our educational policy and it makes dismal reading. it seems that many Māori children leave school uneducated by normal standards, and that disability bedevils their progress for the rest of their lives.

We have recommended that te reo Māori should be restored to its proper place by making it an official language of new Zealand with the right to use it on any public occasion, in the Courts, in dealing with government departments, with local authorities and with all public bodies. We say that it should be widely taught from an early stage in the educational process. We think instruction in Māori should be available as of right to the children of parents who seek it. We do not recommend that it should be a compulsory subject in the schools, nor do we support the publication of all official documents in both english and Māori, at least at this stage in our development, for we think it more profitable to promote the language than to impose it.

English’s comments were made in relation to a new book published by Historian Paul Moon Killing Te Reo Māori.  Moon has had a checkered past and has been described as New Zealand’s most right wing historian.  Claudia Orange once famously said that he was out of his mind.

His latest book claims that a concentration on correct pronunciation is killing the renaissance of te reo.  This is a funny claim.  I always thought that correct pronunciation was necessary for the survival of a language, otherwise how would everyone know what was being said.

The discussion is an important one.  As the Tribunal correctly stated Māori culture is a part of the heritage of New Zealand and te reo Māori is at the heart of that culture. If te reo Māori dies the culture will die, and some­ thing quite unique will have been lost to the world.  That is why the Government should be doing all it can to ensure that te reo Māori florishes.

68 comments on “Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori”

  1. Stunned Mullet 1

    “His latest book claims that a concentration on correct pronunciation is killing the renaissance of te reo. This is a funny claim. I always thought that correct pronunciation was necessary for the survival of a language, otherwise how would everyone know what was being said.”

    Really ?

    English as spoken today is quite varied throughout the world and has changed quite significantly over the years and continues to evolve.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Variations are fine but if the phrasing becomes too radical then the ability to understand each other disappears.

      • Stunned Mullet 1.1.1

        Thank goodness you weren’t about in Shakepeare’s time.

        • Macro 1.1.1.1

          You don’t have to have been around in Shakespeare’s time – have you ever visited Glasgow in the recent past? Even Scottish non-Glaswegians have difficulty.

          • Stunned Mullet 1.1.1.1.1

            True that.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.2

            +1

            I can hear Gimli saying “that was deliberate!”

          • D'Esterre 1.1.1.1.3

            Macro: “Even Scottish non-Glaswegians have difficulty.”

            Heh! I vividly recall from many years ago, meeting Glaswegian migrant children. We were cheerfully – and mutually – unintelligible.

            • KJT 1.1.1.1.3.1

              You haven’t seen linguistic confusion until you hear a Glaswegian crane driver and a Cajun tool pusher attempting to communicate.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    It’s so difficult to distinguish between centre-right politicians and white supremacists these days.

  3. Ad 3

    English could have been clearer, but I am presuming that he is meaning that the Maori Language Commission had a new Act last year which makes Maori responsible for sustaining the language, not the government.

    “Under the new Act Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori will have the lead implementation role, concentrating on increasing the use, visibility and status of te reo within government and wider New Zealand. A new body, Te Mātāwai, will represent and lead iwi, hapū and Māori organisations in supporting the transmission of te reo Māori from generation to generation.”

    http://www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz/about-us/news/maori-language-commission-at-strength-with-new-role-and-new-members/

    So in terms of bureaucratic responsibility, I can see his view.

    Very interested to see how Labour’s new and large Maori caucus make the most of Waitangi Day this year.

    • D'Esterre 3.1

      Ad: “So in terms of bureaucratic responsibility, I can see his view.”

      Much as it pains me to agree with anything English says, he’s right about this. And he would be right, even were there no new legislation.

      Languages need to be used by the people who value them. And – vitally – they need native speakers. This is the responsibility of Maori: it is their heritage, after all.

      Language is a biological feature in the first instance. One’s first language patterns the brain.It provides the lexicon an individual needs to use that language. It is never lost.

      A member of my family has English as a second language. That person arrived here as a young child, and now – almost 70 years on – speaks unaccented EnZed English. But the native language remains, and is revived when we visit the native country.I’d add that this person sounds like a native speaker: that is, they speak the native language unaccented, even after all these years. It is a marvel to behold.

  4. Bill 4

    So…as a speaker of only one language and speaking it in a (very washed out) dialect and with an accent…

    You write –

    I always thought that correct pronunciation was necessary for the survival of a language, otherwise how would everyone know what was being said.

    When I was a kid there was a widespread insistence, including within the education system, that everyone “ought to speak Queen’s English”. It was a fucked up approach then, just as any imposed homogenisation is fucked up now.

    I know NZ doesn’t really have a wide range of distinct accents and has no dialects. Both things lend (what I’ll call a “parent language”) a huge sense of vitality and vibrancy.

    An anecdote.

    When I hit Dunedin I ran into a Scottish woman who had lived here with her Scottish husband for 30 odd years. And her accent allowed me to place her origins within a five mile radius of where she hailed from in Glasgow. I don’t know if accents are so demarcated these days (what with the impacts of various media and people shifting so much), but if they’re not, something wonderful has been lost.

    Same with dialects, though their geographical locations tended to be broader and they have been dying out for a fair while now. So for example, I remember turns of phrase and words my grandmother used, that do not exist in English, and that I still use quite naturally on occasion (but then I’ve got to stop and explain what I just said)

    Anyway. What’s left now, and what’s used now, of what was once a huge, rich culture of expression via the spoken word, is akin to some sorry crumbs of bread left behind on a chopping board. (And I don’t mean that to be just taken in relation to me because I live in NZ)

    Language needs to fly. Not be cooped up in some loft of “properness”.

    Jeezus. I’ll shut up now.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      NZ … has no dialects.

      In te reo, the word is “mita”. Think kai/ngai, or the ‘f’ (or not) sound in ‘wh’.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Aye. Very good OAB. 🙂 (C’ept that’s accent, not dialect)

        I should, of course, has been painfully precise and written – I know NZ doesn’t really have a wide range of distinct English language accents, or dialects.

        • Carolyn_Nth 4.1.1.1

          If you watch Maori TV language programmes, you will see that they sometimes have speakers of local Maori dialects, providing info on words and pronunciations specific to such dialects.

          there’s a difference between allowing dialects, and an outsider completely mangling the language.

          • mauī 4.1.1.1.1

            Yeah I’m fairly sure Tūhoe has some words that are unique to them as an iwi and there are probably lots of other examples too.

          • Gabby 4.1.1.1.2

            An outsider? You mean them pesky furriners with they furrin ways?

            • Carolyn_Nth 4.1.1.1.2.1

              No.

              By an outsider I meant someone who is not yet fluent in te reo.

              Insider and outsider are flexible terms, depending on the groups in focus.

              I’ve been told in some rural NZ towns, a person is not really a “local” (i.e. an insider) til they’ve lived in the area for 25 years.

          • greywarshark 4.1.1.1.3

            I have found Maori generally pleased that someone is learning and trying to use Te Reo. Start small is my advice, and there is much to learn. And the person you speak to may be Maori but not have got round to practising what they know and picking up more. So you could make them feel embarrassed, sort of showing off. Try and learn the verbs and see if you can pronounce place names correctly at the first. That would be appreciated greatly.

        • Stuart Munro 4.1.1.2

          Otago folk can generally identify Southlanders or Coasters. But media seem to be eroding local distinctiveness a bit.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.3

          that’s accent, not dialect

          One of the translations of ‘mita’ is ‘dialect’.

          Certainly that’s how it’s used colloquially.

      • KJT 4.1.2

        Except if you are Maori from Taranaki, as i was told by local Maori when i was young, the Wh sound is softer and more like the BBC W, as in What. In Northland Nga Puhi pronounce it more like an English, F.
        Which is why I was surprised about the Insistence on Wh in Whanganui. W is closer to local pronunciation.

        Much as I hate to agree with a vandal like English, it is up to speakers to preserve the language.

        And. Insisting on correctness, will kill a living language. What about all the young Maori who speak, both English and Maori, with the lilt, cadence and accent they have picked up from American gangster movies. Are they wrong?

        My Grandma just used to annoy me when she insisted on “correct” English. Who’s version is correct?

        • D'Esterre 4.1.2.1

          KJT: “My Grandma just used to annoy me when she insisted on “correct” English. Who’s version is correct?”

          Heh! My late mother – an English teacher – used constantly to correct her children’s grammatical errors. We laughed about it, though her admonitions sank in, at least with me.

          But in truth, what our parents called “correct” English is actually “received” English: a marker of one’s social class, as is the Sloan Ranger accent.

          There are no hard and fast rules in language, only conventions.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      I did not express that very well but what I wanted to note is that I have seen no inappropriate insistence on correct pronunciation. The only arguments I have seen relate to very lazy mangling of te reo and I don’t see that as being the primary cause of te reo struggling.

      • Bill 4.2.1

        All that stuff comes out in the wash in time I guess.

        Though I kind of wonder whether, on balance, all the inter-connectedness we have these days helps or hinders language development.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2.2

        Like mangling the differences between ko, kō and kou, and watching fluent members of the audience struggling not to laugh 🙂

        • patricia bremner 4.2.2.1

          OAB, 4.2.2 Getting laughed at means losing an accent or dialect as quickly as possible. The young do this quickly, as they want acceptance above all else. So they will follow the crowd, and we need the crowd to learn te reo.

          If speaking and being encouraged is practised children respond. Those who have ingrained accents or dialects over age 30 seem to keep them regardless of exposure or even lessons.

          More Maori authors telling their own stories in their language and translations are needed. In Maori the verb precedes the noun, when this translated, the audience or reader gets the poetry of the language. It is beautiful, and evocative.

          “Runs the waves over the shining sand.”

          • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2.2.1.1

            “Who does not laugh, does not learn at all.”

            Lao Tzu.

            To be clear, I’m relating a personal learning experience. The laughter at my manglement of te reo was a lesson, explained with grace and good humour 🙂

    • weka 4.3

      It’s not about properness, it’s about whether one is making a rudimentary attempt to learn te reo. I commented below about the Moon issue, and why he’s wrong.

      Te reo has developed since colonisation (and before). It’s still changing. There’s no suggestion here that there should be one proper te reo. It’s about learning the range of what makes sense within the language, and NZ making sure the language thrives.

      • Bill 4.3.1

        I was actually thinking of the Académie française with that general observation on language.

        • weka 4.3.1.1

          I don’t know what that is. In the context of the issue that’s arisen this week, English is being institutionally racist, and Moon is… I don’t know what. The pronunciation issue is important, listen to people who speak and teach te reo an those who have been working hard to save and make te reo thrive.

          • Daveosaurus 4.3.1.1.1

            I understand that the Académie française is an organisation which defines what is considered ‘correct’ French to an extent that no organisation does for English.

            Moon is just an idiot: New Zealand’s answer to Keith Windscuttle – i.e. not quite as disgusting as if he would be if he were New Zealand’s answer to David Irving, but heading in that direction.

            A few times in the last few years I’ve been in situations where I needed to use my (limited) knowledge of te reo and my (even more limited) knowledge of le gagana Samoa. In all that time I’ve only ever once been pulled up on my pronounciation of anything – and that was of a place name which I don’t consider to be Māori: although it could possibly be Māori, it has no known meaning in te reo and is believed to have been bestowed by a Scotsman.

          • D'Esterre 4.3.1.1.2

            Weka: “I don’t know what that is.”

            L’Académie française is an organisation originally set up by Cardinal Richelieu before the French Revolution. Its purpose is to police French, and prevent the introduction of words and usages not considered French. And it’s been as dismal a failure as one would expect, given the nature of language.

            “English is being institutionally racist…”

            Racism is potentially a debate-squelching epithet. English is correct: the survival of the language is critically dependent upon its use by the people whose language it is. And they must produce native speakers: those of us who are second-language speakers can’t save it, much as we might want to believe otherwise.

            “and Moon is… I don’t know what.”

            Try “correct”.

            In my lifetime, te reo has declined to the point that it is now, despite the kohanga reo and kura kaupapa movements having forged ahead. If people want evidence for the ineffectiveness of the didactic approach as a means of saving , it is there, right in front of them.

            • Sam 4.3.1.1.2.1

              At the top of Kohanga is a lady who can not change with the times. Can’t adapt and will take the entire institution with her to the grave…

              • D'Esterre

                Sam: “Can’t adapt and will take the entire institution with her to the grave…”

                Sad indeed, but not altogether surprising. Establishing such a venture was a singular achievement. Trouble is, they become the founder’s “baby” and even structural change is fiercely resisted, let alone acceptance of the notion that the movement itself was the wrong strategy. Or that it could have helped but wasn’t nearly enough by itself.

                • Sam

                  It’s just that no one has a grip on the curriculum that seems to me to be producing consumer babies. So they’re not even thinking about creating farmers, store keepers or accountants. And this stuff has to be owned at the strategic lvl. Or doc workers, riggers and stage hands for kapa haka. You know what I mean? Having a language is one thing. Making sure it’s useful has to be owned at the strategic lvl, at the Kohanga national board lvl.

                  • D'Esterre

                    Sam: “Having a language is one thing. Making sure it’s useful has to be owned at the strategic lvl…”

                    Indeed. I don’t know much about what’s taught at TKR nowadays, but I wonder if the view of te reo as a taonga obscures the necessity for it to be useful. And that colours how it’s taught.

                    There’s a real risk of it becoming like Latin, facility in which – when I was at school – was seen as a mark of a well-rounded education. Latin and ancient Greek were icons of our European heritage, but they weren’t languages one used for any purpose. I’d be very sad if that happened to te reo.

                    • Sam

                      There’s more of a risk that funding drys up. We went from about 500 kohangas to no more than 200 in 10-20 years. And some of the reasons given are the same as yours. “That Te Reo is a treasure and must be protected, and so on.”

                      And this is the thing with people advanced way beyond there skills. The board has zero idea where to source the resources involved or what price should be bought or sold at. But no one notices these minor accounting errors that build up over time into less educational outputs, because the board gets top ups every year.

                      If not for the top ups the National Board would have gone bankrupt.

                    • D'Esterre []

                      Sam: “There’s more of a risk that funding drys up.”

                      This in Stuff today: https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/100631948/academic-says-te-reo-on-life-support-bill-english-says-its-not-up-to-govt-to-save-someone-elses-language

                      Mention is made of the success of TKR. Yet clearly – if they were intended to foster the revival and spread of te reo – that isn’t true.

                      But if people believe they’re successful, they’ll continue to be funded, I suspect.

                      Much of the commentary in that piece comes from pollies, and they show their ignorance of how language works. But Moon – who does know this stuff – says: “fluency passed down in the home, as a first language, was the only way to revive the language, and have it used in a popular way.

                      Languages weren’t saved through bilingual signage, a widespread use of common greetings, and compulsory teaching, he said.”

                      Nanaia Mahuta agrees with him. They’re talking about having and promoting the development of native speakers within Maori families. With native speakers, TKR could usefully contribute to language revival. Provided that the movement accepts that the language must be useful. Not just a treasure to be protected.

                    • Sam

                      What makes me Tūhoe is the language that sets me apart. Other animals don’t have anything approaching the sophisticated grammar of human languages. How it is that we learn to speak and think in human languages as young children and become adept at speaking languages very quickly have been struggled over since the dawn of philosophy.

                      Thinkers argue about whether or not humans have innate ideas. Whether we are born knowing things as Plato believed or rather as John Lock and other empiricist argue that the mind is a blank slate which experience writes.

                      An American linguist Professor Noam Chomsky gave a twist to this debate in the 60’s by demonstrating that children learning to speak just don’t have enough information to form the complex grammatical manoeuvres that allow them to form unlimited, new and original sentences. Yet they do so with ease.

                      There is a poverty of stimulus. Something else is going on. Professor Chomsky’s hypothesis was that there are inborn structures with in our brains, what he called a Language Acquisition Device or L.A.D for short, which gives us a natural ability to organise a spoken language that we hear in various grammatical ways. With out this template we couldn’t get started as language learners, making navigating any type of landscape almost impossible. If professor Chomsky is correct then language structures are hard wired as a kind of universal grammar. Our slates have been written on before we emerge from the womb.

                      With out a doubt. It is this kind of manaakitanga that must take place for the successful reintegration of Te Reo back into mainstream. Today Te Reo is communicated in select places such as Kohanga, perhaps the age of eligibility should be set at prenatal care with expected mothers brought in to Kohanga, or some sort of variation and integration of prenatal Kura Kaupapa emersion.

                      But after 40 years and a billion dollars I’m surprised and angered that any of this needs to be said.

                    • D'Esterre []

                      Sam: “What makes me Tūhoe is the language that sets me apart.”

                      Precisely. Language is a biological feature of humans; then that language is freighted with culture and heritage. It makes us who we are.

                      “Professor Chomsky’s hypothesis was that there are inborn structures with in our brains…”

                      Chomsky’s view is the most plausible; it fits with what we know about how humans acquire language. It was widely accepted by academics when I was at uni.

                      “…perhaps the age of eligibility should be set at prenatal care with expected mothers brought in to Kohanga…”

                      Yes indeed. It’s vital that babies acquire te reo exclusively as their first language. Bilingualism at that early stage won’t save the language. Te reo exclusively, for the first 3 – 4 years of life. Bilingualism can come later.

                      “But after 40 years and a billion dollars I’m surprised and angered that any of this needs to be said.”

                      Yup. I agree. Politics has muddied the waters, in my view.

                    • Sam

                      Having proper leaders debates so every one knows what’s on offer is vital. Reversing migration so we can outflank trade policy is a difficult concept for Māori to grasp when they fundamentally reject anything the colonisers say. People just need to seek out information and learn a little then people like me may want to return to my country of birth.

    • Matthew Whitehead 4.4

      Your last point is absolutely valid, (in linguistics, your stance is called “descriptivism,” and it’s largely the orthodox viewpoint, and it’s generally the side I come down on too. Its opposite is “prescriptivism.”) but it’s understandable given the context I think that Māori are politely but firmly asking Pākehā to learn a little about correct spelling and pronunciation when loaning their words out into English. We have a bad habit of mangling pronunciation and spelling, or if you want to be nice, anglicizing, loan words.

      It’s a different case for people who are actually fully engaged in learning the language as a whole, in which case, you’ve got to balance learning pronunciation against learning vocabulary and grammar, and pick your battles in how you encourage someone to improve. And yes, giving people who actually speak the language a hard time about dialects, innovations, etc… is probably a wrong approach, but I also think it’s not really happening as much as Paul Moon suggests, and that he’s just reacting to the correction of people who don’t even speak Māori yet.

        • Matthew Whitehead 4.4.1.1

          There are downsides to being overly descriptive, too- it’s my favoured direction, but it’s not universally right.

          You essentially need to know at least the basics of every major European language to understand English pronunciation and spelling in any sufficient sense because we love loanwords. And a lot of our earlier abbreviations are in Latin, not English- you’d have no idea what I meant if I wrote, t.i., f.e., or a.s.o. (that is, for example, and so on) But you’d instantly recognize their Latin equivalents: i.e., e.g., and etc…

          A fanatical descriptivist would insist that “shouldn’t of” is just as valid as “shouldn’t have” in written English, when one has foundations in grammar that ground it, and the other doesn’t, and I think you’d probably agree that the former is a bad idea.

          And moving onto things that are a bit more murky, let’s go back to the smartphone: a smartphone is a phone that has many functions, but a dumbbell isn’t a bell that’s overly simplistic. And let’s not get started on spelling the words that do have English roots- we largely gave up on having phonetical spelling, which makes learning to write overly complex, even for people whose first language is English.

          Having a central, prescriptive authority with a degree of mana that can actually sort out these snarls that free-wheeling evolution of language gets us into on our own is actually not a terrible idea, (at the very least, English needs a thorough spelling reform that goes much further than the Americans were willing to contemplate. Don’t get me started on the letters “c,” “q,” or “x,” or the sounds that we write as “th”- yes that’s plural, there’s actually two of them) the thing is there also needs to be room to rebel against it if it gets things wrong, (your article is a good example) and to take in concepts and words from other languages, and a willingness to accept innovations that simply happen on their own as valid, even if they’re not your preferred solution. That’s why English is still being used even though the countries that originally enforced it- Britain first, and more recently the USA, are no longer really ascendant as superpowers anymore- because its philosophy of reverse-assimilation, where we take in other people’s concepts and ideas, has won in the free marketplace of language.

          • Daveosaurus 4.4.1.1.1

            I’d write what sounds like ‘shouldn’t of’ as ‘shouldn’t’ve’ – I’d consider that correct, if fairly informal, English.

          • D'Esterre 4.4.1.1.2

            Matthew Whitehead: “shouldn’t of” is just as valid as “shouldn’t have””

            I dislike that usage intensely, but I suspect that it’s an example of language shift. If that’s so, it doesn’t matter a damn what I or anyone else thinks. It’ll permeate the language regardless.

            Some years back, a relative who was a teacher remarked that they’d pretty much accepted the loss of the apostrophe. Oldies like me use it: the young for the most part do not. That’s language shift.

            There are no hard and fast rules in any language. Only conventions.

            • Matthew Whitehead 4.4.1.1.2.1

              It’s unlikely to catch on in a widespread fashion. I expect it to be a persistent error, and the reason I go prescriptivist on it is because there is a grammatical contradiction to it- “of” cannot substitute for “have.”

              I agree with you that it’s all conventions. But innovations that don’t agree with other conventions (such as English Grammar) will find it difficult to spread widely. My point was that pure descriptivism is just as silly as pure prescriptivism- while I think descriptivisism should generally win, we should be open to the idea that sometimes it’s a poor approach.

  5. BM 5

    The problem for the Maori Language is that outside of a Marae setting it’s not required.

    Language
    The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/language

    It’s far easier for people to communicate in English then it is in Maori and that’s why Maori is basically dead and unused in the mainstream.

    • Stunned Mullet 5.1

      I disagree, words of Maori origin are far more often used in the mainstream these days than at any time in living memory.

      • BM 5.1.1

        Everything in Maori, not the odd word or phrase.

        That’s probably going to be the final destination of the Maori language, absorbed into NZ English where certain Maori words are commonly used or interchanged with their English equivalent.

        • Stunned Mullet 5.1.1.1

          I agree I think the final destination for all current languages will likely be an absorption into existing/new languages. With the original languages the province of scholars and universities.

        • adam 5.1.1.2

          Never took you for a purist BM 🙂

  6. indiana 6

    “It is the role of the Government and its bureaucracy to save the language and it is not “someone else’s language”, it is the indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand. It should be a priority.”

    Should the same apply to saving the Maori Political Party?

  7. JanM 7

    Regardless of any legislation which lays the responsibility elsewhere, Government has a moral obligation to support and advance the revival of te reo because its loss in the first place was the result of government policies, especially in relation to education

  8. weka 8

    The pronunciation thing that Moon is referring to is the use of macrons. Moon appears to be saying that there is too much emphasis on them and this is putting people off from learning te reo.

    The reason that macrons are important is that people who don’t know te reo have no way to now how to say the word. If you want to communicate and be understood then you need to have a reasonable ability to pronounce the words. Macrons help with that.

    Here’s an example.

    “Think macrons don’t matter? Consider this: kākā is the native parrot, kakā means glowing hot, and kaka is a stalk or lineage (and a colloquial word for poo)”.

    And https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/06-01-2018/summer-reissue-get-your-macron-on-a-guide-to-writing-te-reo-maori-the-right-way/

    People who have learned te reo understand what I just quoted and why it’s important. If you don’t understand, it’s time to put aside opinions and listen to what speakers of the language are saying about what is important for the language to thrive (hint, Moon and English don’t count).

    IME the biggest impediment to more people using te reo is lack of places to use it. We can and should change that.

  9. greywarshark 9

    “You can’t rely on a Government and a bureaucracy to save someone else’s language.”
    This appeals straight away to the white conservatives that are his tribe.

    It is Maori that gives wairua to this country, that have given the taste and feel of Aotearoa. It is Maori that want to hold onto the good in their culture and tikanga that will hold NZ together when the wedge politics and the capitalistic notions we have become imbued with, want to split us from any beliefs of our own, our peculiar, intimate ideas that we share.

    The people in and under the control of the financial system want to turn us into scurrying, buying ants watched by those who profit from those activities they have enabled. We already have families sleeping in cars, unable to find a place to live, and many accept that as how things are. Maori aren’t that biddable thank goodness.

    • ropata 9.1

      +1 it’s not “someone else’s” language Bill it is a taonga of Aotearoa. Like the Kauri that so many trampers in the Waitakeres are killing by ignoring a rahui.

      “Someone else” is all of us Kiwis.

  10. JanM 10

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/100627672/new-zealanders-need-to-learn-more-languages
    I strongly suspect this is a National plan to undermine introducing te reo into schools as a core subject

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