Maori Language on the Go!! - RePress

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Thursday, July 31

Maori Language on the Go!!

Maori language promotion must be a joint effort between Treaty partners – and the public institutions responsible must be accountable to both Maori and the Crown, says the Maori Party.

Te Reo issues spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell says the Boards of Te Taura Whiri i te reo Maori, the Maori Language Commission, and Te Mangai Paho, the Maori broadcasting funding body, are all appointed by, and accountable to, the Crown.

“Maori have no legal or political control over the key agencies responsible for protecting and promoting te reo Maori,” said Mr Flavell. “This must change.”

“Te Taura Whiri and Te Mangai Paho were set up in response to Treaty-based claims by Maori. The idea was that these institutions should represent the joint efforts of both Treaty partners – basically, Maori initiative and expertise, and Crown resources.

“Te Taura Whiri was established as an independent commission reporting directly to the Minister of Maori Affairs, with its own budget set by Parliament. At the time, Maori accepted in good faith that this structure would work.

“However, the partnership has been lost. With the Public Finance Act and other changes in government control over Crown entities, Te Taura Whiri is now basically an agent of the Crown, contracted by Te Puni Kokiri, which has control over budgets and work programme. Te Mangai Paho is much the same.

“It is time to make the partnership work, by reviewing the Maori Language Act that established Te Taura Whiri. Maori must take their rightful place, not just at the Board table, but where the Boards are appointed and their performance is reviewed.

“We now have a model to follow – Maori Television, which most people would agree has been a great success, both in its programming and audience appeal, and also in its management and accountability for taxpayers’ funds.

“The board of MTS has seven members – four appointed by a Maori electoral college, and three, including the Chair, appointed by Ministers of the Crown. This model clearly works well, and should apply to the other key Maori cultural and language institutions.

“In calling for change we are not criticising of any member of the boards of Te Taura Whiri and Te Mangai Paho. What we are saying is that community support is critical to the revitalisation of te reo Maori, and that can be unleashed if the people see and feel that they ‘own’ these institutions.

“After twenty years, it’s time now to let these organisations fly, by loosening the ties to the Crown that are strangling Maori vision in planning for Maori language,” he said.
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