Compulsory te reo: What the candidates say


We ask the region's election candidates whether te reo Maori should be compulsory in schools:

Pat Spellman - New Zealand Independent Coalition candidate for Waiariki.

We need to look at the question from a different angle. We shouldn't argue over whether or not te reo Maori should be made compulsory - we should accept that it should be considered a core subject in kura - right through primary, intermediate and secondary school levels. I would advocate for te reo being classed as a core subject - it is, in essence - what differentiates us from anywhere else in the world. It's the lifeline of te ao Maori and without it being instilled from a young age and throughout our kids' journey through kura into the professional world, we will lose it.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay.

The National Government supports schools offering te reo Maori as an option but does not support it being compulsory. We support bilingualism and multilingualism however, we believe it must remain a matter of choice for individual parents and students.

As one of New Zealand's three official languages it's important to promote te reo through encouraging not compelling its teaching. National works to raise literacy, numeracy and achievement levels among all of our primary, intermediate and secondary school children. To help achieve this we have invested heavily in education including the Rotorua Education Initiative "Excel" to support all students in Rotorua.

Fletcher Tabuteau - New Zealand First candidate for Rotorua.

I strongly assert that te reo Maori is a taonga of Aotearoa and it is for all of us to be agents for its continuance and growth. In all of our mainstream schools here in Rotorua teachers are always trying to integrate Maori culture and te reo into everyday learning in all aspects of the curriculum. NZ First would welcome a review around the kaiako resource support for the teaching and learning of te reo in in the mainstream schools, but also ensuring quality learning for all students in full immersion kura.

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell.

The Maori Party wants te reo taught to all students at primary school and to be available to every student at secondary school in Aotearoa. If our language is to survive and thrive, all students must leave primary school with a basic knowledge of the language and the opportunity to further that at secondary school. If the language becomes an everyday part of all children's lives through their education then we will grow the number of speakers both Maori and non-Maori. It will be a great day when we can all speak to each other in te reo anywhere, anytime.

Tamati Coffey - Labour Party Rotorua electorate candidate.

Te reo Maori should absolutely be compulsory in schools. It's just a shame that we don't have the number of proficient teachers to cope with such a policy, so for now, it remains an aspirational goal for me and for the Labour Party. Let's keep using it and working towards funding the resources so that anyone, at any age, is able to start their journey with this beautiful language. My commitment to te reo is to start macronising my first name in the hope that other New Zealanders might start to understand the impact macrons have on Maori words.

Annette Sykes - Mana Party Waiariki electorate candidate.

The first mass action to protect te reo Maori was the petition presented to Parliament by the Te Reo Maori Society and Nga Tamatoa in 1972. Its goal was te reo Maori in schools and Mana thinks it's still a must. We're advocating for Maori to be a core curriculum subject alongside English, maths and science and to be taught in every school. I had the opportunity to be educated at an international college in Singapore and there learnt English and Malay. The same opportunity to be fluent in our national languages should be given to every student in Aotearoa.

Rawiri Waititi - Labour Party Waiariki electorate candidate.

Yes. Te reo Maori should be made compulsory in our schools. Professor Wade Davis, a Canadian anthropologist, conducted extensive research on indigenous languages all over the world and found that of the 7000 indigenous languages, half will become extinct in our lifetime. I will not accept this happening to our language and I will do anything in my power to ensure that it thrives in our country and that it is treated with the respect it deserves. I will not be happy until Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori becomes the norm 52 weeks of the year. Then, I will know our language is healthy, living and working.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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