This week is Maori Language week. With that in mind, it is good to see the Minister of Education defending the proper pronunciation of Maori names despite the barbs being biffed by her colleague Judith Collins, the former Minister of Many Things.
Aotearoa New Zealand has come a long way on the bicultural relationship since 1975 so it’s disappointing to see a sacked Minister angling to restore her political capital by appealing to the redneck vote for support. As Aotearoa New Zealand’s second official language te reo Maori is entitled to be respected by all New Zealanders, just as English is – it’s hardly a burden. And to that end we have seen many of the institutions that communicate with, and educate the public about, that language take the lead.
A child with a non-English name has every right to expect their name to be pronounced correctly outside the home as within. That is just the civilised decency that a multicultural society should afford. Beyond their family, teachers are the main adult contact children have. Aotearoa New Zealand is founded on a unique bicultural relationship and respect for Maori language and institutions is central to that. It’s incomprehensible that a member of the ruling political party of the land should denigrate that aspiration, particularly one who has been a Minister of the Crown with experience in the Social Welfare portfolios – albeit since ditched from Cabinet for misbehaviour.
Minister Parata of course is bound by her office and cabinet membership to be polite in response. That burden however does not lie upon any member of the public who finds the Judith Collins approach to minorities arrogant.
Why did Collins attack Minister Parata’s requirement that teachers respect the Maori language? Was it a demonstration of the Pakeha chauvinism that is the trademark of the retarded right of politics here – our version of Tea Party Conservatism? Or it was genuine ignorance on Collin’s part as to the respect te reo Maori should be afforded as an official language?
Given she’s been a Minister of a government that has contributed significantly to the renaissance of the treaty’s role, her intent is more likely to be a deliberate slight of the treaty partner and appeal to the reactionary rump in her own Party who would welcome a Donald Trump-like approach to minorities.
It is pretty clear that all those charged with communication in Aotearoa New Zealand – media, government press officers for example – are committed to improving pakeha’s pronunciation of te reo Maori. A teacher is no different to any other official in this regard.
The least a Member of Parliament can do is respect that progress and not be obstructive to the goal of ensuring Maori children have their names pronounced properly. It is no less than a human right.
Congratulations to Minister Parata, shame (again) on Judith Collins and the redneck right she represents. It wouldn’t do the latter any harm to take a lesson from a young pakeha Finnian Galbraith of Kapiti College, who recently has gained fame for his approach to te reo Maori.