WHY "MĀORI" LANGUAGE PLANNING?
A Bilingual Nation
A vision Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori has for Aotearoa - is of a bilingual nation (using the official languages Māori and English) where all New Zealanders value "our" reo as a living national taonga. It recognises that while reo Māori will always be central to Māori culture, it contributes significantly to New Zealand's unique identity in the world.
go to: www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz
To achieve our vision of a bilingual nation:
- Whānau, hapū and iwi Māori must be able to maintain and strengthen reo in their communities;
- all New Zealanders should have the opportunity to become bilingual;
- the Government must treat Māori and English equally; and
- when people speak Māori they should be assisted to use the language appropriately.
Māori language planning can contribute to achieving all of these outcomes by developing strategies and initiatives suitable for organisations, businesses or community groups. Further, it ensures that work undertaken is informed by research and theory, and for communities, supported by a Māori validated concept of knowledge.
Māori Language - The Indigenous Language of Aotearoa
"All languages are equally complex and capable of expressing any idea in the universe, with a vocabulary able to be expanded to include new words for new concepts". (Fromkin & Rodman, An Introduction to Language (2nd ed.) 1978, p331, Ministry of Education, Aoteareo (draft), 1992, p33. Māori language is the indigenous language of Aotearoa and whether in written or spoken form, has the proven potential of expressing any concept. For example, the national education curriculum is delivered totally in reo Māori, and the vocabulary commonly used in information technology is in the process of being translated.
If successful Māori language regeneration is the goal, careful planning will be necessary for individuals, whānau, hapū and iwi, government and non-government organisations to satisfy the main indicators of language health: usage, status, acquisition corpus, and critical awareness.
According to the Health of the Māori Language Survey 2001, after continual decline for several decades, the numbers of adult Māori language speakers have stabilised at around 136,700 (42% of Māori aged 15 years and over or approximately 25% of the entire Māori population).
They can be divided into three general levels of Māori language proficiency:
- Nine percent of all Māori adults speak Māori 'well' or 'very well'
- 33 percent speak Māori 'fairly well or 'not very well'
- 58 percent can understand spoken Māori to some degree
For more information on the Māori Language Survey 2001,
go to: http://www.tpk.govt.nz/maori/language/default.asp
For the past 20 years, language regeneration efforts have been largely centered on supporting Māori language acquisition, particularly in the education sector, for example, Te Ataarangi, Kōhanga Reo. However this focus alone, will not guarantee language health. With the development of a relatively large pool of speakers, we now have the opportunity to look at the other activities that can contribute to the overall regeneration of reo Māori. Language planning can support the health and continuous development of our language by guiding efforts to:
- increase Māori language proficiency as well as numbers of speakers
- disseminate information about Māori language issues
- encourage positive attitudes towards reo Māori
- assist people to use Māori language in new ways and in new domains
Planning will also ensure that efforts across the community, iwi and government are coordinated and working to compliment, not duplicate each other.
Benefits to Aotearoa and all New Zealanders
- National identity: who we are, what we do, where we
live and how we are seen by the world; by promoting and
increasing awareness of Māori language and Māori languages
issues to all New Zealanders thereby contributing to the
maintenance of a distinctively New Zealand culture;
- Families both young and old having the support and
choices they need to be secure and be able to reach their full
potential within our knowledge based economy; by working with
key institutions and Ministries to ensure access to Māori
language is equitable; and
- the transformation to a high income, knowledge
based market economy, which is both innovative and creative and
provides a unique quality of life to all New Zealanders; by
supporting and strengthening the language capabilities of all
New Zealanders, and by encouraging New Zealanders to realise the
potential and relevance reo Māori has in our society.
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