In the Election Aotearoa debate for Hauraki-Waikato candidates Labour's Nanaia Mahuta and Māori Party's Rahui Papa, the issue about having te reo as a compulsory subject was brought to the fore.
Presenter Heta Gardiner explained how National wants to fund any second language in schools which means the Māori language will have to compete for a place in schools.
When asked why the Māori Party has not pushed harder for te reo Māori to be compulsory in schools, Rahui Papa said, "Te Mātāwai was established to do that, to be a watchdog of te reo Māori in the govt circles, to get our pūtea for the reo back into the kāinga."
He went on to say, "We want to make it compulsory in all schools, we also want to settle the Kōhanga Reo Claim so that the reo Māori comes up through the pipeline. We also want to advocate and champion that local histories should be taught in schools."
Gardiner then asked Nanaia Mahuta why the Labour Party doesn't believe that te reo Māori should be compulsory in schools.
She replied, "We believe that it should be a core subject and not compete with things like Maths, Science and things like that."
"The reality, in order to ensure that te reo Māori becomes a real option for our kids, the majority of which are at mainstream, is actually to grow the pool of teachers. For five years, the kōhanga reo claim has languished," she said.
"Saying it's compulsory and delivering on it are two different things," said Mahuta.
Mahuta went on to say that the Māori Party has been in government for nine years, which gave them a chance to grow a pool of teachers that could make te reo Māori more compulsory.