Primary and secondary school teacher unions have applauded the Green Party for its commitment to teaching te reo Māori to every New Zealand child but say more investment into teacher training and professional development is needed to realise the vision.
Green Party Maori development spokesperson Marama Davidson said there was a responsibility to ensure that the Maori language “not just survives, but thrives in Aotearoa”.
“Despite huge progress over recent decades, the survival of te reo Maori is still not assured. In 2013, only 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders spoke te reo Maori and the percentage of Maori who can hold a conversation in te reo Maori is falling,” says Davidson.
“Introducing all children to it at school is one of the best ways to make that happen.”
Secondary teachers’ union PPTA says the Green Party’s stance supports the union’s policy supporting te reo Maori as a universal subject. The union has had the policy in place since 2001.
“Of course, having the right number of teachers of te reo is critical to the success of this policy. Currently the demand for teachers of te reo Māori outstrips supply,” says PPTA president Jack Boyle.
“There is a clear need for more teachers with appropriate skills and qualifications. Māori teachers are needed to provide the source for the teaching of Māori language and culture in the public education system.”
Primary teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa agrees there needs to be more professional development and training of teachers to make the Green Party’s goal a reality.
“Many more fluent Maori speakers need to be attracted into teaching, and strategies and resources are needed to ensure that professional development and training is provided both at the pre service level, and for teachers in the classroom,” says NZEI president Lynda Stuart.
“This requires a plan, but also much more Government investment if it's going to happen.”
The Greens have launched a petition over the issue and said they would be engaging with “parents, tangata whenua and the education sector this year to develop a policy on how it will be delivered”.