Labour: Speak Maori properly

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Aug 27 15:37:15 UTC 2005

Labour - speak Maori properly
>>From the New Zealand Herald


By Jon Stokes

All student teachers will have to prove they can pronounce Maori in order
to graduate, under Labour's Maori policy launched yesterday. The proposal
to "ensure all teachers demonstrate competency in reo-a-waha enunciation
and pronunciation" is among the policy proposals put forward by Prime
Minster Helen Clark and Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia in
Hamilton. Mr Horomia said it was important teachers set an example for the
country's children, one in four of whom were Maori.

"Maori is an official language of this country but many people don't make
an effort to pronounce Maori correctly. Teachers teach our kids a lot of
things, from Shakespeare to poetry - what is the difference in teaching
how to pronounce people's names and Maori correctly?" Mr Horomia conceded
that not all politicians provided a good model - "both sides of the House
struggle with pronunciation".

He said it was inevitable the issue would rankle with some people.
National's Maori affairs spokesman, Gerry Brownlee, said he was staggered
by Labour's plan. "It is almost pathetic. This is politically correct
tokenism. I hope the Prime Minister is taking some lessons. I have heard
her butcher and mangle pronunciation herself."

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples supported moves to compel teachers to
pronounce Maori accurately, and called for the Government to go further.
"It is a start but what about members of Parliament?" It was time all MPs
showed respect for an official New Zealand language and for Maori by
speaking te reo correctly. Entertainer Sir Howard Morrison said he was not
in favour of anything "enforced", but would be disappointed if the average
New Zealander did not recognise te reo as an official language.

"Many, many a time I've found people who have mangled words and place
names on TV and radio. Nothing's that difficult to learn - there's only
five vowels for goodness sake," Sir Howard said. Maori was made an
official language 15 years ago. Some 160,000 people are estimated to
understand or speak it to some extent. Dr John Langley, dean of the
education faculty at the University of Auckland, said he believed all
children should be taught Maori in schools and this would be the first
step towards achieving that.

"I'm sure it would put people off [becoming teachers] but progress is not
made on the basis of public opinion." Other proposals included supporting
Maori organisational governance courses, more support for Maori tourism,
and entrepreneurs. Labour will also review the Crown Forestry Rental
Trust. Mr Horomia also repeated an announcement of aiming for a Treaty of
Waitangi claims deadline of 2020

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