Te Reo Quandary
Justice Joe Williams who is chairing an inquiry by the Waitangi Tribunal says the Maori language is in “crisis” and only urgent action will halt its decline. As older speakers of Maori die out they are not being replaced by enough younger people and the language now needs “life support”, the report says. Less than a quarter of New Zealand’s 53, Maori say they are fluent enough to hold a conversation in Te Reo Maori, and the number is declining every year. Justice Williams’ report dismisses perceptions of a government-sponsored revival since the 198s as “rhetoric”. “The notion that Te Reo is making steady forward progress, particularly among the young, is manifestly false,” it says. Minister for Maori Affairs and co-leader of the Maori party Pita Sharples said the problem is not just of the government’s making. “Really it is about getting the language into homes and families talking it, and that’s how it will survive,” Sharples said.