Change ahead for Māori language

By Maiki Sherman

The Māori language has been strengthened legally under the new Māori Language Strategy tabled before Parliament today.

The strategy is derived from the report produced by Te Paepae Motuhake, who travelled the country garnering the nation's views regarding the Māori language.

A new bill for the Māori language that replaces the old act and hands over the governance of the language to tribes.

Under the old model, the Crown held governance over the Māori Language Commission and Māori held governance over Te Pūtahi Paoho.  Te Pūtahi Paoho and the Crown held governance over Māori Television. 

Under the new structure, the Māori Language Commission and Te Māngai Pāho will be removed from the Crown and placed under the governance of Te Mātāwai.  Te Mātāwai will absorb the role of Te Pūtahi Paoho, meaning it will hold governance over Māori Television alongside the Crown.

There will be 12 members on Te Mātāwai.  Seven will be appointed by tribes, three by the cluster Te Reo Tukutuku, and two will be appointed by the Minister of Māori Affairs on behalf of the Crown. 
These are the regional tribal areas that will have representatives on the board.  These are the groups which make up Te Reo Tukutuku nominating three members. 

However, not everyone supports the idea. Te Pūtahi Paoho will be disestablished under the new strategy.

Alongside them is the NZ Māori Council who laid a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal alleging they weren't adequately consulted, despite being one of those who led the fight for the language in previous years.  

That request was rejected by the Tribunal this morning.  The focus now is on the Privy Council.

Pita Sharples is set to retire at the coming elections with the bill only reaching its first reading by then. So it will be in the hands of the incoming Govt whether the bill succeeds to its third and final reading.  

Given the opposition, it seems that won't be easy, but only time will tell.