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Māori Language Sector Reforms

Example of our work regarding TE REO LANGUAGE REVITALISATION

Pānui 32/ 2019 the Governments Māori Language Strategy Maihi Karauna The Crown’s Strategy for Māori Language Revitalisation 2019–2023.

Title: Maihi Karauna The Crown’s Strategy for Māori Language Revitalisation 2019–2023
Publisher & Date: Te Puni Kōkiri: February 2019
Type of Document: Government Strategy
Length, style: 44 pages: Plain English (Te Reo version available)
Recommended readership: Iwi leaders, language planners, subscribers in the Māori language and broadcasting sectors
Content summary: The Maihi Karauna sets out the Crown’s latest Māori language strategy – which is centred on ‘Kia māhorahora te reo’ – Māori language everywhere, every way, everyone, every day.  (I.e. the idea of everyday use in normal daily life.)  Three outcomes to reflect this are centred on language status, language learning and development, and usage frequency.  Beneath that goals and short-term priorities are aligned.  The details of these elements are set out in the table below.
Quality rating:[1] Marginal
Assessment Rationale: We found this strategy to be marginal as there were both significant positive and negative features.  On the positive side the strategy:

  • is well linked to language revitalisation theory and Māori aspirations (i.e. the methodology of the strategy is sound and appropriate);
  • if implemented it could have a positive impact on Māori cultural wellbeing; and it is cognisant of Māori worldviews.

However, there were a number of aspects which were also problematic.

  • First, the strategy talks about its goals being ‘audacious’, but actually all three goals could potentially be met without any further intervention.  For example, to achieve goal two – people who know basic Te Reo will need to increase from 15 percent to 17 percent of the population – in our assessment a two percent rise is not something to describe as significantly challenging.  Equally for goal three – 150,000 highly competent Māori speakers of Te Reo by 2040 – that equates to only a four percent rise.  And goal one could possibly already be met, depending on survey questions used.  In sum, this is not at all a deep water strategy, more of ‘keep it steady, and stay close to shore’ approach.
  • Second, goal one – people value Te Reo – is a nice input but not a good selection as one of three big goals.  Ultimately it does not matter how many people say they enjoy Te Reo – perhaps nearly everyone already enjoys the All Blacks doing the haka – what matters is Te Reo learning and usage.  In our view goal one is actually a poor indicator of revitalisation success – and worse could even be an indicator of a lack of Māori language normality.
  • Third, the strategy does not align particularly well with the Māori Maihi Strategy, released by Te Mātāwai in 2016.  Why should the Crown set the overarching vision for Te Reo in a model designed to reflect partnership, and what was wrong with agreeing the Māori language goals set by Māori for the language? The two strategies read as distinct and despite linking text it is not clear to us how they work together.
  • Finally the strategy is complex.  Two vision statements, outcomes and goals, priorities, priority groups, three approach statements, mapping with the Māori Maihi Strategy, etc.  Most elements read well on their own, but overall the strategy does not read well as a collective whole, it is hard to read from cover to cover, refinement is missing.  And despite all the elements, there is no commitment within it to greater resourcing and support for Te Reo which is really what is required if more people are to speak more Te Reo.  I.e. an investment approach.
  1.  Note no actions sought for most subscribers, this strategy is Government facing.
Hyperlink: https://www.tpk.govt.nz/docs/tpk-maihi-karauna-en-2018-v2.pdf

[1] Refer to the rubrics table in the endnotes for quality ratings.