Hunger for te reo grows
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Hunger for te reo grows

Despite a recent outcry
from public figures questioning the relevance
of te reo Maori, Te Karere can reveal clear evidence that points to a growing
public appetite for the language. And while delegates at the conference of the
National Maori Language Institute welcome the growing interest, they harbour fears that there aren’t enough quality
teachers to meet the demand. Hania Douglas reports. Just one thing to say
to reo Maori nay-sayers: When we were at school, we weren’t
allowed to speak the reo, we had to use English. But today…stuff them! That’s the general mood
shared by these language revitalisation experts, especially since finding out
that the language’s popularity is on the rise. There are two main languages spoken
– English and Te Reo. There are opportunities to use
Te Reo but they are far and few. There are heaps of opportunities
for English. There’s radio, television, and when it comes to instruction
at school, most are using English. With increasing use of Maori
by people in the media, we’re hearing more greetings
and sign-offs being said in the language. I think there are sections
of non-Maori society that are taking an interest
in Maori society. I think it’s great because it is well and truly time
for everyone in NZ to learn to speak te reo Maori. The recent Nielsen Survey found
that 57% believe that it is important for NZ
that the Maori language grows. But there’s a slight hitch
to its growth in that there just aren’t enough
teachers to supply demand. Numbers of Maori speakers
are growing, but not so much people
who can teach the language. So there probably needs
some attention paid to developing teachers to ensure intergenerational transfer
of language. One of the reasons, I believe, that secondary school students
aren’t taking up a career path in education is that they can see that teaching is a really
demanding job. But this group of language
revitalisation experts agree that the best language
revitalisation strategy is to pass the language on
through the generations. I’d like to acknowledge
the schools out there who have made te reo Maori the only language allowed
to be spoken on school site in the hopes that their students
will keep the language with them as they become elders of the future
over tomorrow’s descendants. To ensure the language
survives indefinitely. Hania Douglas, Te Karere.

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