Trade Minister Tim Groser is calling for Māori to be made compulsory in New Zealand schools.
Speaking on TV3’s “The Nation”, Mr Groser stressed that it was a personal view but he believed we should be teaching Māori to every five year old.
”This is turning the usual Pakeha argument on its head, because what I think should happen is that you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of biculturalism and more than one language, and then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit,’ he said.
“There’s a whole lot of research to back this view up.
“This is not a conventional view of the Māori language issue, understand that.”
Mr Groser said learning another language gave people the ability to look at things from a different cultural perspective and pick up on this.
“Once you’ve accustomed your mind to working in a different cultural space you can learn another cultural space and or language so much faster.”
Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples congratulated his colleague for saying te reo Māori should be taught in all primary schools.
“The Māori Party thinks Māori should be ‘compulsorily available’ in all schools, and various public opinion surveys show most New Zealanders support that stance.
“I also think all Māori children should have access to Māori-medium education, which produces fluent speakers of Māori; and the government is working on a range of initiatives to help that happen.
“It is very heartening to see that most New Zealanders want te reo Māori to be spoken in Aotearoa, and the idea of all children being able to learn Māori at school, which might once have been considered controversial, is now mainstream thinking,” said Dr Sharples.
Source: The Nation – press release, NZ Government press release