Luxon is absolutely right

1 News reports:

Christopher Luxon says he was told by some Kiwis on the campaign trail they “didn't know” the difference between Waka Kotahi, Te Pūkenga and Te Whatu Ora.

Speaking to Breakfast, the incoming prime minister said having English first on government agencies will “make sure” people “understand” what agencies are and what they do.

“For some of us, it's quite straight forward, but for many New Zealanders, they didn't understand that.”

Luxon said if people “can't understand” their government agency, let alone hold them accountable, that is a “big problem”.

The tone is sceptical of the claim, but this probably more reflects how out of touch much of the media is. Over three months I polled 1,000 NZers on whether they knew the English name of various government agencies, using their Te Reo name. I published the results on my Patreon in August, and reproduce it here now:

“At the suggestion of a subscriber Curia in June, July and August has asked 1,000 New Zealanders if they know the English name of various government agencies in Te Reo. We now have results for six agencies:

  1. Manatū Hauora, Ministry of Health: 8.1%
  2. Te Manatū Waka, Ministry of Transport: 7.7%
  3. Te Putea Matua, of New Zealand: 5.7%
  4. Te Pou Hauora Tūmatanui, Public Health Agency: 4.6%
  5. Waka Kotahi, : 50.1%
  6. Te Aka Whai Ora, Maori Health Authority: 11.1%

This reinforces to me how insulting it it to the public for media or the agencies to only use the Te Reo names. Taxpayers should not have to google an agency to know what it is.

These results are not at all an argument against government agencies having a Te Reo name. I personally think it is a good thing for agencies to have names in both English and Te Reo.

But again what it shows is that if the agency, or media, only refer to themselves using their Te Reo name, then most New Zealanders do not know what agency is being referred to, and hence they are deliberately making it harder for citizens and residents to access their services or make sense of the story.

A good example is this recent press release from the Reserve Bank:

Today Te Tai Ōhanga, Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga and Te Pūtea Matua are publishing a joint paper that provides an assessment of the key drivers of rents in New Zealand.

By deliberately excluding the names in English, they are producing a media release that almost no recipient will know what they are referring to.

It's an obsession that is elitist and patronising. It shouldn't actually need a coalition agreement to instruct government agencies to not deliberately be unhelpful to the public.

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