Greens lay out plan for compulsory te reo Māori in all schools

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has promised te re Māori would be compulsory in all primary schools by 2030.
CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has promised te re Māori would be compulsory in all primary schools by 2030.

The Greens are promising compulsory te reo Māori taught in all schools by 2030, with a taskforce to deal with teacher recruitment and implementation. 

Party co-leader James Shaw made the announcement in Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week - laying the timeframe for a commitment the party had previously made. 

"The Green Party supports teaching te reo Māori to all children at school, and we have a plan that will achieve it within a generation," he said.

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"I can't wait for the day when every child learns te reo Māori and falls in love with this beautiful language, which is uniquely ours."

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The Green Party promised te reo Māori in all schools in February.

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"Working with te reo experts, parents and teachers, hapū and iwi, we have now developed a plan to achieve this vision," Shaw said.

The party would build teacher capacity and use a staggered approach to implement the curriculum subject for all students from Year 1 to Year 10, over a period of 10 years.

Te reo was the first language spoken in Aotearoa, and was a fundamental part of the New Zealand identity, he said.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that our indigenous language thrives, and introducing all children to it at school is one of the best ways to make that happen.

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"Learning a second language has proven benefits for children's educational outcomes, as does Māori students being immersed in their own culture."

The taskforce would be specifically focused on establishing te reo Māori as a core curriculum subject in all public primary and secondary schools from Year 1 to Year 10 by 2030. The party said it would work with the education and te reo Māori sectors to create curriculum guidelines.

A targeted strategy with incentives and scholarships was expected to drive teacher recruitment and the number of specialist te reo Māori teachers and kaiārahi i te reo - Māori language therapists - would be increased. 

Formal "clusters" of te reo Māori teachers would be established and the party has also given a commitment to negotiate to honour the Te Kōhanga settlement claim currently in the Waitangi Tribunal. 

In that claim, the tribunal found the Crown's early childhood education system, in particular its funding formula, quality measures, and regulatory regime, had "failed to adequately sustain the specific needs of kōhanga reo as an environment for language transmission and whānau development". 

The full cost of this package would be met from the Green Party's commitment to increase the overall education budget. Shaw said costs in the first few years would be modest but rise over time as the workforce grew.

 - Stuff

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