Greens want compulsory Te Reo in schools

Otumoetai Intermediate principal Henk Popping says Te Reo is widespread in most schools anyway. Photo: Twitter.

The Green Party has announced a plan for universal Te Reo Maori in schools.

The party has launched a petition to support the call, and will be engaging with parents, tangata whenua and the education sector this year to develop a policy on how it will be delivered.

Green Party Maori development spokesperson Marama Davidson says the Green Party is committed to achieving the goal.

“Despite huge progress over recent decades, the survival of Te Reo Maori is still not assured. In 2013, only 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders spoke Te Reo Maori and the percentage of Maori who can hold a conversation in Te Reo Maori is falling.

“We have a responsibility to ensure our indigenous language not just survives, but thrives in Aotearoa, and introducing all children to it at school is one of the best ways to make that happen.”

President of the New Zealand Principals' Federation Whetu Cormick applauded the announcement.

“NZPF led the establishment of a professional learning development programme, the Maori Achievement Collaborations (MACs) to support principals to transform the culture of their schools and open up to bi-culturalism,” he says.

“Teaching Te Reo to every New Zealander will complement the MAC programme and greatly benefit all children in Aotearoa.”

However, ACT party leader David Seymour has spoken out in opposition to the proposed policy.

“Their first election year announcement could have been about housing, fixing educational failure, or raising productivity but instead they want to force Te Reo on students, who already have the choice of studying it.

“The Greens remain a party who put their ideology ahead of New Zealanders' wellbeing. ACT supports students' right to pursue the subject, but it should be optional.”

Tauranga intermediates already embracing Te Reo

Whether or not Te Reo Maori becomes a compulsory subject is unlikely to affect Tauranga schools, many of which already insist upon Te Reo being a part of their curriculum.

Otumoetai Intermediate principal Henk Popping agrees, saying Te Reo is widespread in most schools anyway.

“Certainly at Otumoetai Intermediate we try to incorporate Te Reo as much as we can. We don't have any bilingual classes but we do try to make it part of our lessons.”

Otumoetai Intermediate, like other schools, offers English and Te Reo, but also Mandarin, which is taught by language assistants paid for by the Chinese government.

He says every teacher is expected to build Te Reo and tikanga into their own programmes.

“What's more important is student's having an understanding not only of the language, but of Maori culture as well.”

Aquinas College head of curriculum Fraser Graham says their school has compulsory Te Reo Maori for Years 7-9.

“We believe this is important for a number of reasons – honouring our responsibility as treaty partners, acknowledging and celebrating the bicultural heritage of our nation.

“As a Catholic school, it is an important issue for us in terms of our commitment to social justice, as well as acknowledgement of the great variety and flavour that exists within human experience.”

Mount Maunganui Intermediate principal Lisa Morresey says the use of Te Reo Maori in classrooms often depends on teacher confidence.

“The teaching of other second languages also depends on teacher confidence and competence. Te Reo Maori is integrated into our topics and our learning where we can. We often use both languages in assemblies, formal occasions, newsletters, and in day to day use. We also have a bilingual class which delivers learning in both English and Maori.

“Personally, I think that Te Reo Maori is a taonga only found in Aotearoa/New Zealand. I believe by teaching and using Te Reo Maori we give our students a tremendous gift. The gift of identity, understanding, language, culture and history.”

She says if Te Reo Maori was to be compulsory for all students, the Ministry of Education would need to staff and resource schools appropriately.


Te Reo

Posted on 19-02-2017 17:46 | By

I spent four years learning Te Reo. Good fun but really hard work. To make it compulsory would mean reducing core subject (maths, english Science, etc) teaching time to fit it in. Language learning means 'a little and often', i.e.,, every day at school. Sounds good. Lengthen the school day is the other option.

Suemagoonz, a question,

Posted on 18-02-2017 14:07 | By R. Bell

just what do you consider is your culture? Please take the time to define it.Robin Bell.

Loosen up guys

Posted on 18-02-2017 12:09 | By Papamoaner

It's a colourful language and sounds beautiful. I agree with R. Bell.Good idea, let's do it.If you don't all watch out, everything cultural, including languages, might soon be set by Trumpism.

Sorry Suemagoo Maori language is as important as mathematics

Posted on 18-02-2017 10:55 | By Peter Dey

Many primary teachers were never good at mathematics and do not enjoy teaching mathematics. They teach it as best they can because of the future good for the students. Teaching all primary students a second language is for their future benefit if they should want to speak a foreign language later. Maori is the only practical second language that all our primary students could be taught. Compulsory Maori language for all primary students as the Greens propose simply recognises something of obvious educational value that we have avoided doing because of a fear of an ignorant Pakeha backlash.

Not my culture!

Posted on 17-02-2017 19:07 | By suemagoonz

As a teacher I do not consider it my JOB to teach Maori yet teachers are being asked to do this more and more. Admittedly it is usually greetings, some questions and answers, colours and numbers. Of what possible benefit this is I don't know. I don't think parents know that their children do NOT have to participate in Maori Education in schools (much like Bible in Schools). Even some Maori students are "encouraged" to participate in Kapakaka when they don't really want to. Culture should be kept by those who wish to keep it - parents and families should be keeping their own cultures alive. We should respect all cultures but maintain OUR OWN, not have something forced down our necks.

All children should learn a compulsory second language

Posted on 17-02-2017 13:07 | By Peter Dey

Language experts agree that learning a second language in early education makes it easier to learn other languages later. This means that making second language learning compulsory in early education is just as important as making subjects like mathematics compulsory. Students who object to learning mathematics just get told that it is for their own good. The same situation should apply to compulsory Maori language. We need more people who can speak foreign languages. As a trading nation it is essential. The only practical choice we have for a second language for all primary students is the Maori language. That card trumps all other arguments.


Posted on 10-02-2017 08:21 | By R. Bell

In response to your "marathon". You speak much of peoples perceptions, Clearly they are very important. The perception that Te Reo Maori is a dead language and achieves nothing, that it is useless,are all misconceptions. Approximately 25% of Maori are fluent and a growing number of non Maori. Perceptions that Maori are a privileged race are clearly ridiculous. The responsibility to provide adequate education rests with the state. Maori require different attention, it's a simple fact of N.Z. These "perceptions"are driven by a well oiled conspiracy industry hell bent on on creating a backlash of resentment, all based on misinformation and alternative "truth". I share your dream for a Utopian type future but sadly I believe you are targeting the wrong people Robin Bell.

The real issue on Te Reo (Part 2)

Posted on 08-02-2017 14:09 | By morepork

ALL of us, irrespective of our ethnicity, need to realize that we have a chance to shape what NZ will stand for in the future. A place where people are not judged on their skin colour or the language they speak, but on the values they embrace and the things they aspire to. Everyone gets a fair go; no less than that and no more than that. Our values and culture can be shaped by all of the ethnicities and diversity in our society and we can take the best parts of many cultures and make them our own. If we can achieve that (and it won't happen overnight) Te Reo and Maoritanga will not die out; rather they would be a part of Kiwi culture, treasured by all. There would be no need for enforcement, which, as others have noted, is ALWAYS counter-productive.

The real issue on Te Reo. (Part 1)

Posted on 08-02-2017 13:54 | By morepork

It wouldn't need to be enforced if there was a general perception in the population that Maoritanga belongs to all of us and is important to all of us, just as European culture is. Non-Maori Kiwis would embrace it, if that perception was changed. Progress is being made but there is still far to go. As long as there is inequality and favouritism, as long as one ethnicity claims advantage over the others, as long as people feel they don't get a fair go, there will be Racism and Discrimination. Legislating against it won't eradicate it and enforcing aspects of it (including the learning of Te Reo) will just make things worse. Parents like astex don't see it as being of value, and wasting valuable learning time; if they perceived Maoritanga differently, they would realize that it IS valuable, but maybe not in the way they think.

I like astex's comment.

Posted on 08-02-2017 13:41 | By morepork

The responsibility for children to learn a second language is with parents. As is education regarding any specific ethnicity/culture. The school's job is to create educated New Zealanders, and give them the tools to pursue their own personal growth, so that the citizenry of tomorrow is well-informed and able to think for itself. Robin says that Maori families CAN'T teach their children and that is a valid point, but then it is down to the whanau to implement a Te Reo program in the home, with adults and children learning together. ANYONE who WANTS to learn Te Reo can do so; there are huge resources on TV and the Internet for teaching yourself. It isn't about whether Te Reo is "useful" commercially or not. It is an important part of our culture,and all Kiwis should be able to at least pronounce it properly.


Posted on 07-02-2017 07:58 | By R. Bell

you make it difficult to argue, all of what you say is valid. However it is also valid to consider the social cost ( to everyone) for poor educational outcomes. The Maori language is the undisputed base of Maori culture, respect for that culture has to be more than token tolerance. Will compulsory teaching of Te Reo be the answer? I certainly don't know, but if you consider the current situation, and the rapid improvement in total immersion outcomes, the cost benefit to us all is worth any perceived disadvantage. Remember groutby, all education for children is compulsory. Robin Bell.


Posted on 06-02-2017 19:46 | By groutby

I believe the Maori language is a wonderful language and ever evolving as such, new definitions and words for things we have never even heard of seem to "pop" up...but look, realistically as a second language in our country needs to, and has as I see it, been given status. The fact (and surprisingly perhaps I agree) is that Te Reo was actively discouraged in years gone by (note that comment please) , but to make it compulsory?..well, will it be useful in future ambitions within employment here?..maybe if involved with a government dept or Maori Institution..overseas? at all. We need to be aware and offered availability of such study in the public domain, as for making Te Reo compulsory,no. We are continually being "dumbed down" in all in what we do now, we need to upskill for the world challenge NOW for the future..not the pas

You still don't know, I know.

Posted on 04-02-2017 16:05 | By R. Bell

The children of immigrants who speak languages taught to them by their parents, speak those languages because their parents, grandparents etc were fluent speakers. That is not the case with Maori ( generally). The Maori language was deliberately discouraged, in the belief that Maori would soon follow the demise. It didn't happen and never will. Don't take my word for it, check the facts. Also ponder the academic excellence of the immigrant children whose early education was in their native language. Robin Bell.

Who's problem is this?

Posted on 04-02-2017 14:34 | By astex

We have many immigrants in New Zealand that use a language other than English and who's children speak fluently in their native language. Why? because their parents teach them from the cradle. If Maori want their kids to speak Te Reo, it is THEIR job to teach them. Why should my kids miss essential learning to be able to speak in a language that is obsolete in today's world?


Posted on 02-02-2017 21:42 | By dumbkof2

mao ori should not be compulsory if you want to leann a dead language then go for it. kids should be tought the things that benifit them like woodwork engineering cooking homecraft and other useful things that will help them later in life not some useless language that so few people use and even know of.


Posted on 02-02-2017 17:30 | By Taffy

Only one thing to say God help us if this wacky backy smoking idiots get into power.NZ will be on the long road to oblivion

Learn the meaning of the word rights

Posted on 02-02-2017 17:16 | By The Tomahawk Kid

I think political party representatives who wish to bring in policies that force people to do things against their will should be sent to jail until they learn that Threats and Force are not the way civilised people engage with each other! Would they like to be forced to go to jail? I doubt it? Just like some people do not wish to be forced to learn Te Reo! Personally I would LOVE to learn Te Reo - but I have more respect for other peoples rights than the Green party, who dont know the meaning of the word.

Those Greenies sure are 'green'

Posted on 02-02-2017 16:29 | By Laurie

We have a responsibility to ensure our indigenous language not just survives, but thrives in Aotearoa" - how dumb do the Green Party think we are - this is just an attempt to capture more of the Maori vote - have they done any sort of a cost/benefit analysis - obviously not - as it will cost millions of our tax payer dollars to implement. Those millions need to spent on fixing our housing crisis, health & education where it will benefit everyone. Well done the 'Greens' you've just unticked yourselves on the voting papers of most NZ'ers.

Something more useful will suffer

Posted on 02-02-2017 16:23 | By spencerb

Why on earth would we want our kids to learn an almost dead language which is not spoken anywhere else in the world and by only a small minority here. We should be concentrating on teaching our kids something useful which they can use in their future lives. This is a typical Greens brain fade which hopefully will meet with the disdain it deserves.

Te Reo Maori,

Posted on 02-02-2017 15:12 | By R. Bell

was almost stamped out in this country by a combination of bad gov'nt policy and the mistaken belief that english would be the only language Maori would need. Both were wrong,we can learn from past mistakes. Teach the children Te Reo Maori everyone will gain. Don't worry overit you won't become "Maorified" not a chance. Robin Bell.

Instead of what?

Posted on 02-02-2017 14:49 | By Confused

Our kids only go to school for so many hours per week so if they add new lessons then existing ones must be shortened. What skills will they sacrifice?I would rather the schools taught budgeting or parenting, skills young people could really use.The Greens have certainly lost my vote

No thanks

Posted on 02-02-2017 14:36 | By Captain Sensible

Pull the plug on Te Reo. Just as someone on life support for 20 years making no progress and costing in excess of $600 million per year to keep breathing, it is now time to flick the switch. If it survives by itself, then fine, but if not, then that's fine too. Tax payers should not be pumping their hard earned money into this dead idea. There are better projects to benefit all of NZ. The percentage of population that cares about learning a useless dead language is miniscule.

Te Reo

Posted on 02-02-2017 14:04 | By PaulM

Was talking to a good teacher this morning about Te Reo at primary schools and she put forward the suggestion that first these children should learn to speak English.Many new entries cannot speak in any understandable fashion only in US slang or a derivative.To learn any new language the ability to speak one properly is necessary.Many new entries in lower decile schools are from other countries, and have difficulty in understanding our language anyway. That is the first hurdle surely.


Posted on 02-02-2017 13:29 | By RawPrawn

"Despite huge progress over recent decades, the survival of Te Reo Maori is still not assured. In 2013, only 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders spoke Te Reo Maori and the percentage of Maori who can hold a conversation in Te Reo Maori is falling." So the 20+ years the Government has been funding Kohanga Reo and KKM have apparently achieved nothing! If most people of Maori descent aren't interested in Te Reo why should it be forced on everyone?


Posted on 02-02-2017 12:49 | By overit

that so many things are becoming Maorified now. If you want to learn Te Reo go for it, if not so be it.


Posted on 02-02-2017 10:26 | By RawPrawn

Despite huge progress over recent decades, the survival of Te Reo Maori is still not assured. In 2013, only 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders spoke Te Reo Maori and the percentage of Maori who can hold a conversation in Te Reo Maori is falling." So 20+ years of Government funding for Kohanga Reo and TKK has achieved nothing!! If people of Maori descent can't be bothered with learning 'their' language why should it be forced upon everyone else?

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