More than half of New Zealand schools do not offer any te reo Maori language education according to the Maori Language Commission.

Figures showed 1185 schools did have some level of te reo Maori language education while 1353 schools did not.

While teaching the language was not compulsory, many local schools had embraced the language and incorporated it into their classrooms, especially this week being Maori Language Week.

Te Akau ki Papamoa Primary School principal Bruce Jepsen acknowledged Maori Language Week was an opportunity for everyone to unite and give a concentrated effort on the language and culture but said it was Maori language week every week at their school.


This week we asked whether or not teaching te reo Maori should be compulsory in schools.

Awanui Black, Bay of Plenty Regional councillor

"Yes, not only because it is our national language, but because it helps people to understand where they live and they will know simple things like what the names of suburbs, hills and rivers are. It would be good if people could become fluent, but if people were able to learn the pronunciation that is a good start."

Kelvin Clout, Tauranga deputy mayor

"It is one of New Zealand's official languages so I am more than comfortable for it to be compulsory in schools at least up to an elementary level. It doesn't necessarily need to be taught on its own but could be woven into the teaching of other subjects."

Simon Bridges, Tauranga MP

"I don't think te reo should be compulsory, but I do think it is a very special part of New Zealand. I personally wish I had learnt it and it is still my intention. It opens up the opportunity to learn other languages. It is also socially and economically valuable and we need to value it as something unique and special to our country. I don't support compulsion and think we need to make sure we are doing the things that are currently compulsory well."

Todd Muller, Bay of Plenty MP

"I'm a great believer in teaching our history in schools, with an obvious focus on Maori history and culture. I have a personal view that every school should be teaching English and one other language from year 1-13. Which alternate languages, Maori and/or others would be the decision of the local school board of trustees."

Richard Inder, Gate Pa School principal

"It is something we do here. As we have Maori students it is important that we acknowledge their language, as well as other languages and that we be multi-cultural. It is a very precious skill to be multi-lingual."

Graeme Lind, Greenpark School principal

"I think it should be. It is a push from the ministry and also the focus on Maori student achievements. We embrace it at our school and are in the early stages of developing a te reo Maori programme. I think there has been a bigger push nationally, more and more people are embracing it which is important."

Ross Paterson, Western Bay of Plenty mayor

"I'm a keen supporter of existing curriculum guidelines that support the teaching and learning of te reo Maori in schools. These guidelines are fundamental to New Zealand's Maori Education Strategy Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 -2017. With schools and whanau already supporting this work, along with initiatives such as Maori Language week, I'm confident the use of te reo and tikanga will continue to grow and underpin who we are as a nation."

Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party co-leader and Waiariki MP

"The Maori Party wants te reo to be a core subject at primary school and to also be available at all secondary schools in Aotearoa. For our language to survive and thrive, all students need to leave primary school with at least basic knowledge of the language and the opportunity to further that at secondary school."

Russell Gordon, Mount Maunganui College principal

"New Zealand by definition is bi-cultural, therefore both languages should be present in a student's everyday life. I believe that all students benefit from being in a culturally inclusive classroom, and being exposed to te reo and tikanga Maori. Maori students may not always feel free to be who they are or indeed who they want to be, as the European culture can tend to dominate. Therefore being exposed to more Maori language and customs can only be a good thing."