James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Maori Council fights new te reo agency

Bid for urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing over proposal by Sharples.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said Te Matawai would see iwi representatives from each of the seven dialectal regions lead the different agencies. Photo / APN
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said Te Matawai would see iwi representatives from each of the seven dialectal regions lead the different agencies. Photo / APN

The New Zealand Maori Council is seeking an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing to stop proposed legislation that will see control of the agencies that safeguard Te Reo Maori given to iwi.

Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples last week announced legislation to go before Parliament to create a Maori language governance entity to halt the decline of te reo.

Te Matawai will take control of Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori (the Maori Language Commission) and Te Mangai Paho (the Maori Broadcasting Fund Agency).

It will also absorb Te Putahi Paoho, the electoral college for Maori Television.

Dr Sharples said Te Matawai would see iwi representatives from each of the seven dialectal regions lead the different agencies. Maori language organisations would choose another three representatives and the Minister of Maori Affairs would appoint two for the Crown.

While Te Matawai is largely a result of recommendations from a 2011 review of the Maori language sector by a group of recognised te reo experts, others are opposing it.

The Maori Council is seeking an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing to stop the legislation, due for its first reading before the end of this month.

"There is a law called the Maori Community Development Act 1962, which says the Government must collaborate with Maori over their taonga - they're not doing it and we want the tribunal to make a finding in that direction," said co-chairman Maanu Paul.

"Dr Sharples has done this without consulting the council ... we feel aggrieved the Crown is acting in this manner and that its conduct is at best, abysmal."

He said the changes were "purely political" before this year's general election.

"It sounds like Pita Sharples wants to select his iwi mates and reward them for their loyalty to the Maori Party, this is purely political ... and the Maori Council is not going to stand for that."

If the legislation is passed Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori and Te Mangai Paho will remain but will become statutory entities overseen by Te Matawai.

Te Putahi Paoho will remain a statutory entity but will be overseen by Te Matawai and the Crown.

Te Putahi Paoho chairman Willie Jackson said the changes were "top-heavy".

"It's well-intentioned ... but he's misguided and ironically as a policy it's absolutely at odds with the very constituents he represents - Maori in Auckland."

Te Matawai matters
The Minister of Maori Affairs is proposing a new entity called Te Matawai that will see iwi take control of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori, Te Mangai Paho and Te Putahi Paoho.
Te Matawai will consist of 12 members:
*Seven appointed by iwi clusters
*Three by Maori language stakeholders
*Two by the Minister of Maori Affairs on the Crown's behalf

- NZ Herald

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