Acting PM Kelvin Davis committed to integration of te reo Māori in schools

By Leah Te Whata

The Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis says he's committed to integrating te reo Māori into every ECE, primary school and intermediate by the year 2025. This comes after a High Court ruling overturned a Family Court judgement that forced the withdrawal of a Māori child from total immersion education.

In the High Court judgment, the judge questioned why Māori language is not compulsory in mainstream schools, given the Māori Language Act. I spoke to Kelvin Davis today and he was pleased that a High Court judge came forward with this question because he was backing the Māori language becoming a compulsory subject in all New Zealand schools. Kelvin Davis says that according to The Treaty of Waitangi, all Māori should have the right to learn their language.

New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis says he hasn't forgotten his promise to integrate te reo Māori into every child's education from Year 1 to Year 10 over the next 8 years.

"I would like to see all children across the country have access to Māori education and to learn te reo Māori and be immersed in it if that is what they'd like to do."

This comes after a 7-year-old girl was denied access to Māori education by a Family Court judge, a ruling that has now been overturned by the High Court.

"One of the rights outlined in The Treaty of Waitangi is for Māori to have equal rights and privileges as British Subjects', as stated in the New Zealand nationality law."

It took three High Court judges to preside over the case. After 10 weeks of deliberations, the third judge noted, "It is perhaps surprising in 2017, especially given the Māori Language Act, that it is not yet Government policy that all primary schools teach te reo as a compulsory subject."

Davis says, "The court posed the question as to why te reo Māori isn't in every school, and it's a good question. Māori have been waiting for more than a hundred and sixty years for that to happen."

Davis says he is pleased that the High Court judge took this stance and that the student has resumed her Māori education at a new, bilingual school.