Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mike Butler: Her Honour and te reo

An initiative in which court sessions will open and close with a few words in Maori has sparked admiration and contempt. From Monday, the start of Maori Language Week, court registrars and attendants will open, adjourn and close sittings at the district, family and youth courts in both languages.

The phrases to be used are for the opening: “Turituri mo Tona Honore, te Kaiwhakawa, Taki tu - Silence for His/Her Honour the Judge. All stand. Kua tuwhera te Kooti a-Rohe - The District Court is now open.” For an adjournment or conclusion of a session: “Turituri. Taki tu. Kua hiki te Kooti - Silence. All stand. The court is adjourned. Kua haere ano te Kooti - The court is resumed.”

New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm, who claimed there were no objections from the legal fraternity although I know of one who is spitting tacks over the move, said it was surprising that the Maori language was only now being introduced, considering it had been an official language of New Zealand since 1987. He said that there was already a significant amount of “te reo” (the language) being used as everyday language in state agencies and other courts.

Activist Dun Mihaka, who achieved five minutes of fame for baring his backside to the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983, has been credited with setting the ball rolling for getting the Maori language into court. While appearing on a charge of fighting with police, in 1979, the district court refused to hear the Maori rights protester's address in Maori. Mihaka, who was acting for himself, appealed to the High Court and then the Court of Appeal.

In 1987, "the language" was given official status, leading to bi-lingual naming of government departments.

Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue informed the New Zealand Law Society that the move was “to give greater recognition to the first language of Aotearoa”, according to the Law Points July 12, 2012 edition.

Doogue, who has held the position of chief district court judge since September 1, last year, has a keen interest in languages and issues of culture, is a fluent speaker of French and German, and is working on her fluency in the Maori language, according to her bio on the Courts of New Zealand website. She is also trying to identify “tikanga-based” (the Maori way of doing things) counselling and mediation services for the Family Court.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar called the move, which will make the courts sound a bit like Radio New Zealand around news time in the mornings, a waste of time, and New Zealand First MP Winston Peters said: "With the greatest respect - it's not going to help the spread of the Maori language at all."

It may be of interest that the Maori language is one of New Zealand's two official languages, the other being sign language. While English is the de facto language used in government, business, and day-to-day communication, it lacks the status of an official language.

Jury's out on compulsory use of Maori in court, New Zealand Herald, July 18, 2012.
Judge Jan-Marie Doogue,


Ray S said...

Aha, another foot in the door toward compulsory speaking of maori. Wish I had the wherewithall and opportunity to slam the door violently on that foot.

Anonymous said...

Labour's Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 referred to the "principles" of the Treaty rather than to its black letter wording.

This reference to "principles" and Sir Hugh Kawharu's novel invention that "taonga" in the Maori language Treaty text means "anything treasured or highly prized" meant Treaty claims could be mounted to absolutely anything, including intangibles like language, culture, airwaves, water, intellectual property rights to indigenous plants and animals etc etc.

A key legal principle for interpreting treaties is the understanding of both parties at the time of signing.

"Taonga" in 1840 meant "goods" or things that can by physically owned. Frederick Maning, who arrived in the Hokianga area at age 22, on 30 June 1833, and lived among Ngapuhi before becoming a judge of the Native Land Court, wrote in his book Old New Zealand of being poled up the Hokianga in a boat with his taonga {footnoted as "goods."]

Maori in 1840 would have laughed at the suggestion the Crown had a positive duty to protect, preserve and foster Maori language and culture, and so do I.

Everyone in Court speaks, reads [maybe] and writes [maybe] English. English is the only universal language in this country and that's how it should be.

Visiting AFS scholar, David Ausebel, wrote in 1962 "The future of the Maori language and culture lies not with the intervening European, but in the Maori home, and in the habits and usages of the Maori parents."

While the Maori language and culture may be a very great treasure for some, for those to whom they are not, they are not.

Away with this Maori language and culture nonsense force-fed into the public square -- let's be having and accepting no more of it!


Unknown said...

Kiaora Tatou,

No I'm not Maori. I'm a whitey like you guys but I'm not racist... I think. You see racism has gone underground, upgraded its look to be more stylish and user friendly. In fact, it’s undergone such a dramatic face lift that racists themselves don’t even know they’re racist. That’s impressive. My uncle votes Act and he's a good guy but he rants at people about redneck stuff quite a bit. He's so dogmatic that he's alienated most of his friends and family and spends most of his time home alone (true story). Then I look and see that Act only recieved 1% of the party vote recently. Anyway, Happy Maori language week.

Kia manuia

Sarah said...

A point, largely ignored, is that te reo reflects its pre-European stone-age heritage and is essentially already a dead language - its basic vocabulary is so slender that it needed 10,000 words to be grafted on to it to make it at all useable in today's context. So rather than being considered a "taonga" it could more appropriately be regarded as a linguistic millstone.

Anonymous said...

Kia manure to you too, Eltastro.

There's nothing worse than a Wigger -- someone who sells out their own race and culture so they can engage in liberal moral preening.

Emetics like you are responsible for Treatyism root and branch.

No wonder the Labour Party removed the death penalty for treason from the statute books.

Anonymous said...

in 1936 3 chiefs went to wellington and petitioned parlment to stop using maori in schools as it was a disadvantage for thoes who did not have good english

Anonymous said...

I have repeatedly heard it asserted that it was official Education Department policy for Maori children to be beaten for speaking Maori at school.

Since my grandparents were sole charge teachers in the Native Schools system in the 1930s, and became fluent Maori speakers themselves, I asked my grandmother before she died if this was so.

Her response was that never to her knowledge was it official policy to beat children for speaking Maori at school. Before World War II, Maori were primarily a rural people, and children entering the Native Schools system all came from a home environment with Maori as their first language.

My grandmother said that older children acting as supervising teachers used Maori to acculturate new entrants into the school environment and get them started in English. The school couldn't have operated effectively without this occurring, and none of the many Education Department Inspectors who visited the school over the years ever objeected to it.

The pressure to eradicate Maori from the learning environment came from the Maori parents themselves, who were well aware that Maori contained no words for technical and economic concepts. Because they wanted their children to get on in Te Ao Hou [The Modern World], they would repeatedly buttonhole my grandparents with: "I hope you aren't letting my kids speak Maori in the school, I want them to learn the English."

The fact that succeeding generations of Maori parents elected not to teach a great deal of Maori to their children at home and wanted it out of the school environment is not something that non-Maori can be blamed for.

No amount of revisionist repetition can make it so. Here we see the application of Hitler's Big Lie technique to instill white liberal guilt and manufacture Wiggers. Hitler said in Mein Kampf: "the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

Finally, someone has come forward who had relatives in teaching profession back then who can put that story straight!