Maori Language Commission seeks cash boost

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 14:07 28/03/2012

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The body charged with promoting the Maori language says it hasn't seen a funding increase in five years.

Appearing before Parliament's Maori affairs select committee this morning, chair of the Maori Language Commission Erima Henare said the $3 million baseline budget was a "difficult issue".

The Commission gave the majority of that money out to community and iwi organisations for projects to increase the use of, and education about, te reo.

But there was high demand and it had had to turn away numerous applications.

"Over 25 years (the baselines) gone backwards," Henare told politicians.

He said the issue needed to be looked at.

Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples had told the Commission to focus on putting resources into the community rather than taking direct responsibility for te reo promotion.

Some iwi put money into promoting the language, and the Commission tried to match their contributions, but others believed it was the Crown's responsibility, Henare said.

The Commission was also in contact with Television New Zealand, TV3, and other broadcast organisations about te reo standards in the media.

"The standards are variable at best."

They do not provide funding for media, however.

His comments follow a report last year which recommended a panel be set up to save the Maori language and that a Minister for Te Reo be appointed.

In an earlier report as part of the Wai 262 claim on ownership and use of flora and fauna and Maori cultural intellectual property, the Waitangi Tribunal recommended the Maori Language Commission be given more powers.

There were also calls for more focus on the use of te reo in homes, rather than by media and in the education system.

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