For Maori language to endure, we must speak it

By Erima Henare

Te reo Maori will endure only if everyone gets involved in using it, not just schools and government departments. Photo / APN
Te reo Maori will endure only if everyone gets involved in using it, not just schools and government departments. Photo / APN

Speak the language.

There's been significant activity in the Maori language sector in the past 12 months. Last October, the Waitangi Tribunal, in an unprecedented move, released a chapter of its wider WAI 262 report.

This focused on the Maori language and coincided with a review of the Maori language strategy and sector.

The ministerial review was released in April this year - Te Reo Mauriora.

Both reports cover the length and breadth of language revitalisation funding, initiatives, research, resources and resourcing.

And it's important to have these aspects of language revitalisation examined.

But there remains an irony in adopting this approach because focusing purely on 'infrastructure' distracts us from perhaps the easiest form of language revitalisation - using and speaking it.

I am not saying that the recently released reports miss that point.

Each has its own focus.

WAI 262 reviewed government efforts since the tribunal issued Te Reo Maori report (WAI 11) in 1985.

Both reports assert that government support for the language has been patchy at best, with a notable downscaling of priority afforded the language across government departments over the past 10 to 15 years.

The net result of successive government efforts, therefore, has been to further undermine the language's stability.

The tribunal was quick to point out that the WAI 11 report had introduced legislation that perhaps 20 years down the track needed to be better understood.

An increased understanding might thereby lead to more effective implementation.

Such was the case with the Maori Language Act 1987, which effectively established Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori as the entity that would lead the government's support efforts for Maori language.

Certainly the intent was, and still is, for Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori to operate at arm's length from government, acting as a watchdog to advocate for the language.

Te Reo Mauriora proposed a new strategy for Maori language revitalisation which focused on supporting Maori language in the home.

The report went on further to propose a new structure that would centralise the current government spend on Maori language into one entity - the rationale being that this would improve access to government resources for the language, and amplify the languages presence in the sector, which would presumably lead to greater influence.

While I agree with the tribunal's finding that the Maori Language Act 1987 effectively established Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori as the government's Maori language strategy, the powers and functions designated to our small agency are so far ranging that the resourcing remains a major issue.

The act enables us to work with public sector agencies and co-ordinate government efforts such that the language becomes an integral part of all of its machinery.

Currently - and WAI 262 picks up on this - the language is an 'add on' in some ministries, a veneer in others, with very few actually taking the time to really strategise how the language can make a difference to the way they provide services and/or engage with M?ori.

This is hardly surprising given it supports the findings of the government's own Auditor-General's report in 2007 which was critical of its performance.

It is a complicated, convoluted and highly politicised situation, which is why when anyone asks me what's the easiest thing a person can do for the language, I say speak it, use it.

This may mean learning Maori, or using what language you have more regularly.

If you don't want to learn Maori but want to assist, you can help by supporting and creating positive environments for Maori language to be used. For example, correct pronunciation is an important step in supporting the language.

Yes it is a huge task supporting government efforts for the language, and an important one, but let's keep things real, too.

The government cannot take sole responsibility for the language's survival, neither can schools, neither can Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori for that matter.

Through whose efforts will the language endure?

Through all of ours.

Erima Henare is chairman of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori - the Maori Language Commission.

TE REO VERSION

Korerotia te reo.

E nga iwi, e nga mana, e nga reo, tena koutou katoa. Kua whakapukepuke te wai, kua pa te ori, kua pari te tai me te timu ano, i mua i te tauihu waka o te ao reo Maori i te tau kua hori ake nei, a, e tere tonu nei nga ia o te wa.

No te marama o Oketopa i tera tau i whakaputaina ai e Te Ropu Whakamana i te Tiriti tetahi o nga upoko o tana purongo mo Wai 262.

I arotahi ano tenei upoko ki te reo Maori, a, i tupono tonu ki te kawenga o tetahi tirohanga whanui ki te rautaki reo Maori me te rangai o te reo. I whakaputaina te tirohanga a te Minita i te marama o Aperira i tenei tau - ko te ingoa ko Te Reo Mauriora.

Ka kapi i nga purongo e rua te roa me te whanui o nga take, ko te whangainga putea tera, ko nga kokiri a te iwi tera, ko te rangahau tera, ko nga rawa, me te whangainga rawa ano hoki tera. He mea nui kia ata tirohia enei ahuatanga o te whakahou i te reo.

Engari he mate pea kei roto i enei tikanga wewete, ina hoki, ki te hangai ta tatou titiro ki nga'rawa taketake' anake, ka mahue te tikanga tino ngawari rawa e watea ana ki a tatou katoa - te whakamahi me te korero i te reo.

Kaore au i te ki i hapa nga purongo o na noa nei, i wareware ranei ki taua whakaaro. He arotahitanga motuhake to tetahi, to tetahi.

Na te WAI 262 i arotake nga whakapaunga kaha a Te Kawanatanga mai i te panuitanga a Te Ropu Whakamana i te purongo mo te reo Maori (WAI 11) i te tau 1985.

Engari e mea ana nga purongo e rua, he wa ano e pai ana e kaha ana nga mahi a te kawanatanga ki te tautoko i te kaupapa, he wa ano te pai ana, me te kite atu kua tino ngoikore haere te whai a nga tari kawanatanga i nga kaupapa reo, i enei tau 10 ki te 15. Na kona ko te tino hua o nga kokiri a aua kawanatanga, he keri i nga putake e tu pakari ai te reo.

Na te Ropu Whakamana te ki, i raro i te purongo o Wai 11 i whanau mai etahi ture e tika ana kia marama ki te tini me mano, ki te iti me te rahi, ina hoki, kua taka te rua tekau tau mai i tona putanga ki te ao. Me i marama ke atu te tangata ki te kaupapa i muri i nga ture, kua ngawari ke atu pea ki te whakatinana.

He ahua pera ano te Ture mo Te Reo Maori 1987, nana i pou mai Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori hei ropu whakatinana i nga mahi tautoko a te Kawanatanga mo te reo Maori. Ko te whakaaro i roto i te Ture, e mana tonu nei, kia noho tonu ko Te Taura Whiri i tona ake tunga motuhake, tunga wehe ke i te Kawanatanga, hei kaitiaki, hei mangai hoki mo te reo.

Na Te Reo Mauriora i tapae mai tana rautaki hou mo te whakahoutanga i te reo, me te ki, me arotahi ke ki te tautoko i te reo Maori i te kainga.

I tutohu hoki te purongo kia whakaturia he anga hou hei whakawhaiti mai i nga whakapaunga putea a te kawanatanga ki te ropu hou kotahi - i runga i te whakaaro ma konei e ngawari ake ai te tangotango a te iwi i nga rauemi kawanatanga mo te reo, me te whakapiki ano i te kitenga o te reo i te rangai kawanatanga, me te piki ano pea o tona mana.

Ahakoa e whakaae ana au ki te kitenga a Te Ropu Whakamana na te Ture o Te Reo Maori 1987 i whakatu Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori hei rautaki reo ma te Kawanatanga, na te kaha whanui, tiketike o a matou whainga, a te ropu moroiti noa, kua papaku tonu a matou kete, ara, i te nui o aua mahi.

Ma taua ture ka taea e matou te mahi tahi ki nga tari katoa o te rangai tumatanui, te hautu hoki i nga mahi kawanatanga, kia noho ko te reo hei wahi taketake o ona waka, mai i te tauihu ki te taurapa.

Heoi ano, e whai ana a WAI 262 i tenei take.

He "matau i hangaia ake i te hoenga ki te tauranga ika" te reo, i etahi tari, hei etahi he "whakapai kanohi" noa iho te ahua, he torutoru noa iho nga tari kei te whiriwhiri marire i nga huarahi e ahei ai ratou ki te hua tikanga hou mo a ratou ratonga, mo te ahua o ta ratou noho tahi/korero tahi ranei ki te Maori.

E kore te tangata e oho i ana korero, he kitenga katoatanga enei i puta i te arotakenga a Te Kaiarotake Matua i nga mahi a te kawanatanga i te tau 2007, me ana kohete mo aua mahi.

Kua whiwhiwhi te kupenga, kua huri kowaro, kua kumea e nga ia torangapu, to ke tena, to ke tena, koia au e ki atu nei, ko te huarahi tino ngawari, tino pai, kia korero i te reo, kia puta ko te reo.

Ki etahi o tatou ko te ako i te reo te huarahi hei whai, ki etahi, kia kaha ake te whakaputa i te reo kua akona e te tangata i nga tau ki muri.

Ki te kore koe e hiahia ki te ako i te reo, engari kei te hiahia koe ki te awhina, me awhina ma te tautoko, ma te hora i te tapapa, ma te rakaraka i te one kia pokurukuru, e pihi mai ai te reo i to takiwa, i to kainga.

Ina koa, ko te whakahua tika i te reo tetahi wahi nui o nga mahi tautoko i te reo.

Ae ra, he tino pikauranga nui te tautoko i nga mahi a te kawanatanga mo te reo, he mea whakahirahira hoki, engari kia tika ra a tatou korero.

Ehara i te mea ma te kawanatanga anake e ora ai te reo mo ake ake tonu atu, ehara ma nga kura, ehara hoki ma te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori.

Ma wai e ora ai te reo mo ake ake? Ma tatou katoa.

Ko Erima Henare te Toihau o te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori.

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