Lack of access to te reo resources 'embarrassing'

By Adrian Evans

A Ministry of Education policy preventing public libraries and schools from accessing its Maori language resources is "crazy", Maori librarians say.

Much of the Ministry's Maori language resources are banned from institutions other than universities, because of copyright.

Te Ropu Whakahau spokesperson Alice Heather, from the Maori Librarians and Information Association, said the situation was "embarrasing" and prevented te reo Maori from being properly promoted.

"It's kind of crazy that it happens," said Ms Heather.

"Since 2004, Ministry of Education books have been short listed for the Kura Pounamu section of the LIANZA book awards. This year, there were some beautiful prize winning titles including a novel, a graphic novel and a series of science books but we're unable to promote them."

She said showcasing and promoting the language was an important objective for the group, which was willing to purchase Maori language resources if necessary.

"The libraries find it embarrassing that they do not have these award winning titles in their collections.

"If you want to promote te reo, it's pretty sad."

A senior spokesperson for the Ministry, Megan Heffield, said the materials were produced for the education sector only and wider distribution was never intended.

"All these materials are available from the National Library and in the libraries of universities where teacher training is delivered," said Ms Heffield.

She says the Ministry only had licence to use the work for educational purposes, and would need to review copyright around the products if their use was widened.

"To make hard copies more widely available, the ministry would need to consider the management of copyright. We use contributors' work for stories and illustrations, and have licence to use these for education purposes" she said.

Auckland Libraries Group Manager, Allison Dobbie said libraries were not currently able to purchase te reo materials published by the Ministry of Education.

"We would like to be able to do so as these materials are of high quality and the range of other te reo materials available for children is limited," Ms Dobbie said.

"There is strong customer interest in accessing te reo and bilingual resources, particularly from parents who wish to support the learning their children are doing in schools and kohanga reo."

Ms Heffield said the Ministry would be investigating the demand for these materials in regional and community libraries and, if sufficient, will look at ways to make them available online and to all New Zealand.

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