Like most Gen Xers growing up in NZ as a kid, I had very few opportunities to learn Maori or even understand my own country’s history.
I think we did more skipping for heart health than learn our own nations truth.
Even as a kid however, I always had a deep dislike for authority (probably driven by all that fucking skipping) & saw most official versions of history as the lies of the victors so my own natural intellectual curiosity drove my own exploration of the historic grievances of our country. I learned about the history we don’t mention, the appalling manner in which the Colonial Government passed laws specifically to steal land from Maori and never pay it back. The Treaty always seemed like a beautiful idea whose promise was never realized and the injustice of which helped explain the current inequalities between Pakeha and Maori.
For me the Treaty held an intense truth of Egalitarian expectations, America held their truths to be self evident, in NZ we said the Crown’s obligation was to ensure the self sovereignty of all citizens.
I was smitten by the whole idea.
When I was 18 I had a terrible car accident that left me with a brutal head injury that damaged the area of speech in my brain and even to this day I will mangle pronunciation of a word without realizing I’ve done it. It always made me very self conscious of speaking Te Reo because in the ultra woke now mispronunciation equates to disrespect and some jumped up little Wellington pronunciation Nazi will leap on you and accuse you of cross burning racism.
I have enough week to week cancellations by the Woke for having independent thought, so I have no interest in painting a larger target on my back, but I always believed passionately that the gift of Te Reo was a birth right of every child so I ensured my daughter was enrolled in Maori immersion education and when she speaks Te Reo, I have to honestly tell you, it makes me feel more like a New Zealander than any other thing, I tear up, I really do.
The problem with Te Reo, and why it causes so much cultural friction is of course the unpalatable truth that barely anyone speaks it…
Unless drastic measures are taken the Māori language is doomed to die off with thousands of other languages with few speakers, new research suggests.
Te reo Māori, listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as ‘vulnerable’, is only proficiently spoken by around one in 100 New Zealanders. Another 2.7 percent are able to hold a basic conversation, according to census figures – all up that’s around 185,000 people.
…so maybe 5% are fluent?
That’s why the cultural backlash is so vocal, 95% have little idea of what is being said.
I also find the brown washing of Government agencies elitist bullshit, sure you might have a Maori name and Maori logo staffed with bureaucrats who do the pronunciation and pronouns perfectly, but you are still damaging people with your neoliberal baseline values!
Which brings me to Tamati Coffey’s ‘triumph’.
…while I’m all for making Te Reo more accessible, I can’t get excited about this when the basics are being utterly ignored.
The housing crisis, 24000 on emergency housing wait lists, 190000 kids in poverty and a yawning chasm of inequality are all screaming for immediate attention and what do we get from this Government?
It’s a bit like the Maori Party launching a petition to rename NZ as Aotearoa, sure let’s do that but let’s not pretend that materially changes the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people who can’t make ends meet.
I fear this is now the norm for Labour, their inability to get meaningful change past the Wellington bureaucrats has been bypassed for empty gestures and woke virtue signals.
Hungry children can’t eat bilingual elevators.
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