[content_protector password=”running”]A week or so back, John Key was asked about Māori Language Week. A student asked him if he thought it appropriate to lengthen it to a month. It has been reported in a number of newspapers and on television that the Prime Minister’s answer reduced the student to tears, with Mr Key apparently claiming that a month would ‘be boring’.
Since then, on social media, the hashtag #MakeItAMonth has been trending.
Make it a month? Grow Māori Language Week and make it four times longer? Really? I think it’s a silly idea. And here’s why:
Māori Language Week was introduced to raise awareness of Te Reo Māori and to promote its use. Schools follow additional lessons during language week, presenters on television use more words and phrases, even the Black Caps got in on the act this year with ‘Aotearoa’ on their shirts instead of ‘New Zealand’.
But that’s not enough. Te Reo Māori is one of our three official languages – the other two being English and New Zealand Sign Language. Te Reo Māori is an official language twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. In other words, it’s not just an official language for one week in late July.
That’s why extending it to a month is wrong. By increasing awareness to Māori Language Month, it’s still saying that Te Reo Māori is still only worth promoting for one twelfth of the year (rather than one fifty-second). It’s still not the entire year.
After all, many countries – Wales in the United Kingdom is a good example – where everything is translated into English and Welsh; or Switzerland which has four official languages – French, German, Italian and Romansh (a language that very few people speak) – and still everything is given in all four languages.
It shouldn’t be Māori Language Week, nor Māori Language Month. It should be Te Reo Māori, English and – where practical – New Zealand Sign Language. That’s it.
Make it Māori language all year every year!
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry amongst your students: [/colored_box] [colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Why shouldn’t it be Māori Language year round?
2. There need to be massive changes to have everything in Te Reo Māori, English, and New Zealand Sign Language. What might they be?
[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”green”]Practical Task:
1. Think about your classroom or school. If everything needed to be translated into English, Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, where would you start? What are the most important things? What information could you manage without?
2. Look online for New Zealand Sign Language information charts, as well as online translation tools for English to Te Reo Māori. Choose a poem, or a couple of sentences from a story, or a phrase or two. Write them out in all three official New Zealand languages.
[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: [socialpoll id=”[socialpoll id=”2287665″] [/colored_box]