News of Zealand

New Zealand Wakes Up To Māori Language Week And There’s Already Controversy

The Greens are pushing for compulsory te reo in schools and Don Brash says the haka glorifies domestic violence: welcome to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.
09 September 2018, 11:20pm

It's the first day of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2018 and the Green Party has launched a fresh push for compulsory te reo in primary schools. Party co-leader Marama Davidson said her party wanted to work with the education sector to implement the language as a core curriculum subject, alongside mathematics and English literacy. "The Green Party's comprehensive te reo policy was developed in conjunction with Māori educators, Māori language experts, and the teacher unions," Davidson said.

Despite the Greens’ previous campaign for compulsory te reo education by 2030, the policy was denied during coalition negotiations. Instead, the Labour-led Government compromised with a promise to make te reo classes available to every child in early childhood, primary and intermediate school by 2025, but steered clear of making it compulsory.

The lack of te reo teachers is a huge barrier for the Green policy. Davidson said there were principals who wanted to teach the official language “but [they] just can't find the teachers". She said te reo-capable teachers were being offered higher-paying jobs outside the industry because of their expertise.

In other (far less important) news, Don Brash thinks the haka glorifies domestic violence. That’s right, it’s only Monday of Māori Language Week, but already there is unnecessary controversy. And, shocker, it has Brash’s name attached to it.

For some reason the former National party leader – whose expertise is in economics – was given airtime to project his views on Māori culture. In an interview with RadioLIVE Brash minimised the haka to a “war dance” and said it was not a “good representation” of New Zealanders. “I think the haka is a war dance, it implies we are going to slaughter our opponents on the rugby field… I think it is overdone.”

According to Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand the haka is danced without weapons, separating it from war dances known as peruperu or tūtū ngārahu “which were danced with spears, clubs, or other weapons in hand”. The haka can express an array of emotions, including joy, anger and sorrow, and is not – as Brash put it – limited to the threat of “slaughtering opponents”.