Labour’s secret policy for compulorsy Maori language in schools

The Herald reports:

All New Zealand schoolchildren would learn Maori under Labour’s long-term plan for te reo, but it appears the party is loath to give the policy a high profile.

So is it their policy or isn’t it?

Labour Maori affairs spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta and education spokesman Chris Hipkins indicated Labour had an “aspirational” target for Maori to be taught in all schools after the Maori Party’s Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Te Hira Paenga, claimed Labour had endorsed his party’s policy for compulsory te reo in schools.

“We are glad to see Labour at last getting the message that our reo is something that we all, as New Zealanders, should embrace,” Mr Paenga said.

Ms Mahuta initially suggested Mr Paenga had the wrong end of the stick, saying Labour would only promote its own policy which was “the recognition that te reo should be a working language for all New Zealanders”.

However, Ms Mahuta was far more direct in a debate held in Gisborne earlier this month when she said: “We’ve made a clear commitment that te reo Maori will be compulsory in our schools.”

Isn’t this typical Labour. They say one thing to one audience, and another thing to another. That quote from Mahuta is crystal clear, but now watch them backtrack as the previously secret policy has been highlighted.

She later said the comment was made in the context of the recognition “that there are some real challenges in our school system to build the capacity of our teaching workforce who are able to teach te reo Maori”. She said te reo for all schoolchildren was “an aspirational goal within our policy platform around te reo Maori and we believe that we need to take some practical steps to be able to build up, for example, the teaching workforce to be able to teach te reo Maori in our schools as a way towards supporting that aspiration”.

Education spokesman Mr Hipkins said Labour “certainly wouldn’t use the phrase compulsory” for its long-term te reo policy.

So Mahuta says to a Maori forum that te reo Maori will be compulsory, while Hipkins says, no it won’t be.

“I would certainly like to make sure all kids have the option and there is availability of te reo maori in all schools. Whether in fact that was compulsory, that’s a discussion for another day.

Translation – that is our policy, but we don’t want people to realise it.

I have no problem with having a debate on the pros and cons of compulsory te reo Maori in schools.  What I do have a problem with is a two-faced party that won’t even be honest about its policies.

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