Friday, January 28, 2022

Don Brash: Why is the Maori language being thrust down the throats of people with no interest in learning it?

Over the last few years, and especially since the current Government was elected late in 2020, there has been an increasing trend to use the Maori language where there are perfectly acceptable English alternatives.

Radio New Zealand is a particularly egregious offender: even though the taxpayer has provided many millions of dollars to support Maori-language radio stations, and a Maori TV channel, those of us who speak not a word of the Maori language and have not the slightest interest in learning it are forced to listen to a number of Maori words and phrases with no translation provided.

And the use of Maori words is becoming more and more common throughout the public sector.

Victoria University of Wellington recently placed a large newspaper advertisement for a “Tumu Whakarae – Vice-Chancellor”. The ad had 10 paragraphs of text in it – five in English and five in the Maori language. Since it is inconceivable that the university would appoint as Vice Chancellor somebody who could speak Maori but could not speak English, half the ad was a total waste of money – expensive virtue signaling at the taxpayers’ expense.

Auckland Transport has recently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure that all announcements on the Auckland rail system are made in both Maori and English, while a little earlier Auckland Council had spent thousands of dollars to ensure that elevators in the Council Head Office announced the floor levels in both Maori and English. And this spending by a Council which claims that rates must be increased well above the inflation rate because of all its allegedly high priority projects.

A few days ago, somebody sent me a pamphlet she had received after she had had a Covid test. On one side of the page there were some instructions in the Maori language, just in case there are any people who can read Maori but cannot read English. On the side which was, ostensibly, in English, Maori words were scattered liberally around, sometimes with a translation into English but often not.

One column headed “Set the Tikanga” provided the following advice:

* “Decide what the tikanga is for your whare so everyone is clear.
* “Hold a whanau hui so everyone knows how to manaaki each other if someone gets  sick.

* “Communicate your expectations with your manuhiri e.g. text or message before they arrive, beep from the gate, wait in the waka.”

At another point, the English side of the advice continues “Prepare your pataka” and “Make sure your pataka has plenty of kai in case you need to isolate”.

And of course, without the slightest attempt to ascertain whether the public want to change our country’s name, the Government increasingly refers to our country as “Aotearoa”, or perhaps “Aotearoa New Zealand”. The report of the Climate Change Commission doesn’t use the words “New Zealand” anywhere in its several hundred pages. This is despite polls showing that the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders (some two-thirds) want our country’s name to remain “New Zealand”. And that the original Maori words for “New Zealand”, as used in the Treaty of Waitangi, were “Nu Tirani”.

It appears clear that the Government is hell-bent on encouraging all New Zealanders to learn the Maori language – a language which is of no practical value to the vast majority of New Zealanders – and that in a situation where far too many people going through our education system cannot read or write English – a language which is of fundamental value to all New Zealanders, vitally important for communicating with other New Zealanders and indeed of great value communicating with hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The last National Government, accepting advice that learning a second language may have some advantages for the development of young brains, had a plan to encourage schools to provide a second language, with schools being able to choose which of ten languages they wished to teach. Labour, apparently fearing that very few parents would want to have their children learn Maori if they instead could learn a language which would actually be useful for their future careers, vetoed that plan, and has devoted huge effort to ensure that every school provides some instruction in the Maori language.

The reality is that for the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders the Maori language has no practical value and that, despite heroic efforts to revive the language, it is spoken by a diminishing proportion of Maori.

The international evidence suggests that even making a dying language compulsory does not ensure its survival. After the formation of the Irish Free State in 1921, Irish was made compulsory. Not only did this fail to achieve the hoped-for revitalisation of Irish, the language is currently in near-terminal decline. And the same is true of other languages where compulsion has been tried – Tamil among the Tamil-speaking population of Singapore, Luxembourgish in Luxembourg and so on.

Personally, I have always supported taxpayer resources being used to teach the Maori language to those who wish to learn it, but I strongly oppose foisting it on the rest of us. We in New Zealand are extremely fortunate to have English as our predominant language, the language of science, the language of aviation, the language of finance, and the language which will get you understood in almost every country in the world.

Dr Don Brash, Former Governor of the Reserve Bank and Leader of the New Zealand National Party from 2003 to 2006 and ACT in 2011. This article was first published HERE


Janine said...

Languages are great. I found great value in learning Latin and French. Maori has no value to me but if others want to learn, fine.

Luxon is virtue signaling with his Maori language learning. Learning a new language takes time and effort. He must have much spare time. I wish he would put his time into promising to repeal the separate Maori health system, Three Waters and He Pua pua.

Yes, I know, he's apparently the best we've got. Yikes, a concerning thought! Can any National supporter here tell me what he actually believes in?

All kudos to Dan Wootton a "real" journalist. Actually questioning the narrative. Such a breathe of fresh air. Don't suppose he had to learn " Maori" to reach his present highly paid position.
Seems we still have them. High achievers....Such a shame they are all based overseas.

Brenda said...

I think it's time we started demanding that English text be purely English. In cases like the one you mentioned, having a bunch of Maori words mixed in with the English ones means no everyone will understand important instructions and it could lead to disastrous results! It's down right dangerous and disrespectful! I'm totally fed up with this government and it's whole maorification of NEW ZEALAND!!

DeeM said...

If people don't want to learn a language they won't. No matter how much it is forced on them.
The media can only go so far.
Mainstream TV news channels use short Maori phrases at the start and end of each story. It's annoying but that's as far as they can reasonably push it without losing most of their audience.
Hardly anyone listens to RNZ which has become a political outlet for the government. Without state funding it would have folded years ago.

They can force kids to learn Maori at school. But think back. Most of us oldies HAD to learn a language too. French or German or Spanish etc. How many of us could speak it when we left school? Way less than 1% I suggest.

As Don says, there has to be a good reason to learn another language and there isn't one to learn Maori. Unless you are woke and want to show off to all your friends and associates....who will probably get thoroughly sick of you and give you a wide berth if they've any sense.

gregd said...

Thanks Don for keeping this issue alive.I have posted several times in the last 10 days on this forum the last under Derek Mackie article Re the same topic.i find this pushing te rao language into the english language obnoxious,and it is turning the english langauge which as you said is a world wide standard for speech and way of communication, instead we have these people who have decided to turn the english language which migrants into nz are more than happy to learn or understand, being turned into some form of pidgeon language you would expect to hear in new guinea or the amazon.Ashley Bloomfield is a joke at the podium chopping and changing between auckland and tamaki mokoro-new zealand and aotearoa-family and farno, country/land and round the motu its pathetic. Iam concerned luxon would let this continue after failing to satisfy with his answer in nelson this week when questioned on the same topic where the gent who asked the question got arousing applause.

Anonymous said...

I am part Maori, about 10 or 12 percent I think.
(Not really sure how much and not really interested either).
Because, I am a New Zealander.

I would be mortified to think that I could receive benefits from the government purely because I have a few drops of Maori blood, whilst all of my non part Maori friends would receive nothing. I am saddened to live in a country that would even consider this.

I am also a lover of the English language and will always encourage everyone to use it's beautiful form and not be bullied into using a language that they have no interest in.

Proud to be a supporter of Hobson's Trust

Kiwialan said...

I have an appointment with Matt Doocey, our local MP, next week for the chance to ask his personal views on all of the Maorificaction rubbish that is taking over our Country and why aren't National standing up against it. If I don't hear a satisfactory answer my wife and I will be voting for ACT next election, as will a lot of friends and neighbours. I am a Party member but have had enough. If we all talk to our local MPs maybe they will hear the message. Luxon kowtowing by learning Te Reo is so woke I feel embarrassed for him, he should grow some balls equal to Judith. Kiwialan.

Terry Morrissey said...

According to Stats NZ,
there are 185955 people who speak te reo, which I imagine would include the woke like Simon Dallow, plus one for Luxon. That is 21.8% of maori. That is 3.66% of total population, and includes culture vultures, as above.

How can the government justify spending an increasingly exorbitant amount of taxpayers’ money on a language that has absolutely no value whatsoever? If someone wants to learn to speak maori that is their choice, but I see no reason why I as a taxpayer should foot their bill.

Maori should only be taught in primary schools by choice and the tutors paid by the parents of those requesting the subject.

If Luxon, as a wanabe PM, wants to learn maori to appease the maori tribal elite, let him do so at his own expense (both financial and politically), but why should he feel the need. Most of the tribal elite understand English, as they have scammed their way through university, despite not being able to read the Treaty of Waitangi and understand what it says.
If maori students paid more attention to learning English, there would be a whole lot less leaving school without basic literate and mathematical skills.
Budget 2021 reveals $1billion boost for maori. That is over and above. What does the average taxpayer gain from that?

Ross Meurant said...

Janine said.
Sagacious as always.
One day you may tell: who am I?

GREGD said...

question for Terry Morrissey.What defines the population of maori?Is it the maori voting roll?Is it anyone who wants to call themselves maori on a census count?Is it someone like Dallow who apparently has a sniff of maori blood somewhere.Is it features?Or is it just a case off proving eg 5/10% etc and your in.Wont there have to be some sort of qualification for the so called maori health system.

Anonymous said...

Don, I agree with all you have said.
As mentioned by an earlier contibutor to your comments, I believe one serious and significant risk of the current approach of forcefeeding us maori words at every opportunity is that we ( and in this our young ‘we’ are particularly vulnerable) are mangling our knowledge of english in a way that may become impossible to reverse. New Zealanders will grow up not with english, but with minglish as their first language, and maori as their second.
There is no country in the world in which minglish is an official language, or will even be understood.
For the poor ignorant minglish speaker it will feel as though the world is filled with people with undiagnosed hearing impairments for they will only be able to understand parts of what you say, but unfortunately for the poor mingish speaker, reading your lips will be of absolutely zero help.
We may not be able to convince New Zealanders to back off on maori language everything but it is quite reasonable to demand the two languages retain defined and separate usage. If you are speaking english, use english words. If maori, use maori words. This is particularly relevant with regard to the name of our country; in any english language presentation New Zealand should be the term used. This is the most important first step I believe we can take to reverse the stealth takeover of New Zealand english by the trendy, but ultimately destructive new language of minglish.

Anonymous said...

Not sure whether I have noticed a slight toning down of use of the language and associated opinion pieces etc in some of the main newspapers. Does this mean that the conditional Government funding to media agencies provide they promote the language is starting to run dry and the obligation is waning. This Government is too naïve to understand that this will eventually happen and the sooner the better. Could be though that I am imagining things and the force feeding of the language has led me to just switch off.

gregd said...

Worth listening to a talk back caller on zb newstalk named sheila who called in at1.12 am the discussion went to 1.19am on tues 1/02/2022 says it all, and apparently the young brigade in newsrooms are writing what has to be announced and have told the older announcers they need to get with it or get out! go into' week on demand ' on the zb site

Unknown said...

Who determines the multiple, necessary English words to be translated into a stone-age language to meet the modern day parlance?
Is it the Maori Language Act 1987?
Were we all asleep when this was passed by the Parliament of NZ?
If it is an autocratic body, are checks and balances/expenditures forthcoming?

Just a few questions or thoughts.