“The rushed introduction of the Māori language Bill is further evidence that the Māori Party is trying to score quick political points before the election,’’ said Māori Affairs Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.
“Māori Language is a taonga for all New Zealanders and its growth and development is a significant contribution to support Māori to speak, live and thrive as Maori in Aotearoa.
It is also a language that can help New Zealanders understand the rich and vibrant culture that we have in our own back yard.
“Between 1996 and 2013, the proportion of the Māori population able to converse in Māori decreased from 25 percent to 21.3 percent.
“In order to improve this rate of language proficiency, we cannot afford to get this wrong. The Government should not be rushing legislation through the House,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“Labour is committed to a strategy that will engage the Crown’s obligation to protect and sustain te reo Māori. We are keen to ensure that there is a co-ordinated strategy to lead and implement language revitalisation, where more Māori and more New Zealanders benefit from a living language.
“The lack of information in the public domain detailing the benefit of Government plans to change the Governance structure in favour of Te Matawai raises serious doubts about the policy advice informing this move.
“Labour believes that the ownership of te reo Māori has always and will continue to remain with Māori. We recognise that the impact of colonisation over a period of time requires the Government to maintain its commitment to uphold their part of the obligation to protect the language rather than transfer that responsibility back to iwi.
“We believe that this is a cynical political tactic of the Māori Party to rush through an ill-considered strategy without assessing the full implications of such a move.
“The Minister of Māori Affairs should not start something he has no intention of finishing,” Nanaia Mahuta said.