Topic: Te Reo Māori

New Plymouth Councillor told to apologise for offensive comments

By Peata Melbourne

Chong's post generated a myriad of frustrated reactions from the wider community, many asking for the Councillor to be held responsible for his distasteful comments. 

Outraged residents of New Plymouth took to social media to express their concern over views posted by Murray Chong asking if the country was getting value for money from the millions spent on initiatives to promote the language.

"The last part in his post saying is it time to call it, is Māori a dead language being kept alive on a respirator and to me that signals that to chuck away our taonga" says New Plymouth resident, Aidan Morrell.

Spotswood College student Felix Ashworth told Te Kāea, "I believe even if there are only a few, say 3 or 4 in every hundred who are pursuing the Reo Māori to ensure it's survival, then we can't ignore it."

Te Kāea contacted Chong today for a response who said he's been advised to refrain from talking to media due to a formal complaints process that has been activated since the post.

"To the complaints council has had I think he should apologise for his comments he may think that they are his own personal comments but he is a Council representative," says Morrell.

"It's strange, I'm not scared, but more concerned at how that will impact  Māori in schools so I don't believe his comments were acceptable, even though they're his own views perhaps he should refrain from sharing them publicly,"  says Ashworth.

Chong's post came following calls to make te Reo Māori a compulsory subject in schools. He asked how passionate New Zealanders were about saving it and whether Reo was a dead language. The post prompted a long series of responses from the public largely opposing Chong's view and calling him a racist.

Morrell said, "I don't think Murray's racist, I know Murray, not well but I do know him enough to say gidday to him and it's always been cordial and he's always been polite and we've had a bit of a yarn"

The Mayor of New Plymouth Neil Holdom met with one of the concerned citizens of New Plymouth, Dinnie Moeahu who told Te Kāea Murray has been told he has to apologize for offending people and no way is this the view of the Council who have been working hard behind the scenes in regards to building relationships with hapū and iwi.

"It's an underlying issue not only here in New Plymouth but around NZ as a whole," says Morrell.

Personal post or not Chong's comments have reflected on the Council. The community are now awaiting an apology.