Has Te Reo elitism become Professional Managerial Class brownwash?

The Wellington Twitteratti Professional Managerial Class

When I was 18 I had a car accident that left me with a serious head injury that damaged the part of my brain where I formulate speech and language.

Sometimes, without realising it, I mangle my pronunciation horribly.

I’ve always been a tad self-conscious about it and that’s why I don’t try to pronounce Te Reo because I fear some pronunciation policing woke fascist will jump on my mispronunciation and scream I’m being racist for mispronouncing the language and lead some new crusade to get my cancelled – and I just don’t have the energy for any of that!

I get cancelled monthly as it is, I don’t need another bloody target on my back!

My repertoire of Te Reo is pure pidgin Māori –  Kia ora, Kai pai and Kia Kaha, but I do use those many times a day as my basic go to for greeting anyone.

My tongue is simply too leaden for the beauty of a cultural treasure like Te Reo, and while I can’t speak it, I certainly believed it was my daughters birth right to enjoy this gift, so she has been in a bilingual class all her life (currently she is the only pakeha in her class which is a tragedy in of itself) and I have to tell you that when she speaks Te Reo it melts my black cynical heart and makes me feel more connected as a New Zealander than any other single thing.

To me, Te Reo is a cultural treasure that is a gift, and I think the recent friction over Te Reo is because it isn’t being given as gift, and instead has become a virtue signalling cudgel used by the Professional Managerial Class akin to their aggressive pronoun peacocking that is being used as an elitism rather than a cultural gift.

You see this brown washing happen at State Agency level, it’s outrageous that Oranga Tamariki have that name when they damage so many Māori children!

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Comedian Kajun Brooking touched on this Te Reo elitism with this joke…

…he was surprised by the popularity of it…

Comedian Kajun Brooking shocked by reaction to his Te Reo meme

A comedian has been shocked by the mixed response to a Te Reo meme he posted on social media.

Comedian Kajun Brooking posted the meme on Twitter at the beginning of July, which said: “How Te Reo speaking Maori look at the rest of us Hori’s”.

Brooking said the idea for the meme came after an interaction with a woman who asked him for help in Māori. When he told the woman he couldn’t speak the language, “she actually looked quite disappointed in me”.

…we shouldn’t allow woke identity politics elitism to shame us or bully us, that’s misusing the gift that is Te Reo.

If you don’t speak Māori and you don’t want to, that’s ok, you aren’t a bad person!

But equally, just because you don’t understand what is being said, your slight inconvenience doesn’t justify the cross burning racism that gets voimited up the nanosecond you don’t understand what is being communicated!

Sometimes inconveniencing the majority is good for that majority.

As you wait for the caption to explain what is being said, you might also think this is how hard of hearing and the deal feel all the time, which is why captioning should be funded for all media!

That moment where you don’t understand can be a learning and teaching moment of empathy.

That’s a good thing.

Honestly, if you are such a cracker honky that hearing te reo spins you out, you need a large cannabis cigarette to chill out.

Equally we shouldn’t allow the Professional Managerial Class’s use of Te Reo as a virtue signal to masquerade their failures when 27 000 are on emergency housing wait lists, when 200 000 kids are in poverty and when there are more children living in cars than when Labour began in 2017!

Speaking Māori fluently doesn’t solve any of those problems!


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  1. Te Reo,speaking Maori are important and we should respect that.
    Homelessness,sleeping in cars and poverty should demand more effort and respect.

  2. Agree 100% Not everyone can be good at languages and for different reasons.

    You can be racist and speak perfect Te reo, in fact. isn’t that what the colonials used to get the treaty over the line?

    Te reo for me should be for Maori and not sullied by other’s who learn it and then get elevated job opportunities better than Maori aka our Human Rights appointment – aka getting someone non Maori but who speaks Te reo is more important than actually having someone who is Maori and wants to champion human rights which would have been the better choice than a small town ex Mayor and for our biculturalism.

    Biculturalism is dead now in NZ, we have multiculturalism and a team of woke nationalists re-intepreting the treaty to cancel one party out, while trying to turn NZ into a slavers colony for rich internationalists needing free welfare.

    Personally cringe when I see woke Te reo being used to get hands out for government contracts or sell commodities like chocolate and drinks. The virtue signallers win, but can’t do the contract very well, with mountains of managers everywhere with diversity planning at slave wages or firing people at will! I won’t bother mentioning how Te reo is being used to help obesity.

    Doesn’t help NZ public transport, construction, teachers, medical staff and all the other failing services to our people to waste it on marketing budgets and new signs and branding everywhere.

    Celebrate Te reo, but not brownwash it by woke, with an agenda which generally works against Maori.

    • “isn’t that what the colonials used to get the treaty over the line? ‘
      All the Missionaries at Waimate spoke Te Reo. Their first task before they built a school and a church was to translate the Bible into Te Reo.
      Colenso wrote most of the Treaty with his wife’s assistance( Elizabeth Colenso was born and raised in NZ before 1840) But you know white people , colonialists what the fuck what would they know? I look forward to an English Language week for the language that rules world as it is the language of money after all and few understand it’s rich heritage and beauty.
      Having been raised in the Far North all of my children pronounce te Reo correctly and can read Maori, apart from one they have left NZ to live in other countries as they do not feel welcome here anymore despite being descendants of the Matatua canoe.

      • Shona, I read out your comment to a family member. Said family member (a post-WW2 migrant) completely agrees with your sentiments. As do I.

        I’m a NZer, born here just after WW2. My parents, and one set of grandparents, were all born here. Despite having been an immigrant, my family member is a NZ citizen. We’re pissed off with being increasingly made to feel that we don’t belong here. We do. But the environment is such that we’re seriously thinking of decamping. We’re just figuring out if we’ve got enough resources to live elsewhere.

        As a NZ-born citizen, I’m very angry at this turn of events. My family member (understandably) doesn’t now feel any particular connection to NZ. But I certainly do: it’s my country. Neither I nor my family member had any say over how we fetched up here. We aren’t colonists: what happened in the past isn’t our fault. Nor ought we to be made to feel as if we’re responsible for the actions of somebody else’s ancestors.

        Would that we had a government with the courage to abandon the undemocratic co-governance concept. And to disestablish the outright racist Maori electoral system.

          • Bob the first: “….courageous…”

            Thanks. It pisses me off, though, that I have to say such things in modern NZ.

            We the citizens need the current wave of ethno-nationalism, along with its craven acceptance by left-wing non-Maori liberals, like we need toothache.

    • SaveNZ: “You can be racist and speak perfect Te reo”

      Individual people can’t be racist: that’s the preserve of governments. Society cannot police what people think and say, and nor should it attempt to do so. Individuals can be prejudiced and bigoted: that’s part of what it is to be human. But individual prejudice can’t bring about the large-scale structural changes which discriminate against (or in favour of) particular groups in society. That’s the role of governments.

      “…in fact. isn’t that what the colonials used to get the treaty over the line?”

      No. That’s not what happened at all. Those who drafted the Treaty had good intentions. They wished to protect the indigenes.

      “Biculturalism is dead now in NZ….”

      From the very beginning of western settlement, there were settlers from all over the world. Because of this, biculturalism has never existed in NZ. There have always been too many different cultures here. Which one would we choose?

      While it’s good that Maori and non-Maori are learning it as a second language, that won’t save it in the long run. Like all languages everywhere, for survival it needs a critical mass of native speakers. No amount of second language learning will help.

      In my view, it’s a waste of time and resources teaching it in schools. Especially if it’s made compulsory.

      In the 1970s, when I was a young adult, I learned the language to passable fluency. I was taught by a native speaker: there were considerable numbers still around back then.

      Unfortunately, since then, the language has fallen off a cliff, despite the kohanga reo movement. That’s because, though well-intentioned, it was the wrong strategy for promoting language survival.

      As a result, we now have people who are at best bilingual, while the numbers of native speakers have plummeted. The stats suggest there are probably none left. If that’s so, Maori is a dead language, just like Latin and classical Greek. Not extinct, because it’s still being used. But dead, because there are no native speakers.

      “Celebrate Te reo, but not brownwash it by woke, with an agenda which generally works against Maori.”

      By the looks of it, the current approach is also being driven by Maori activists. It appears that neither they nor the liberal left non-Maori understand the factors which underlie language survival and revival.

      I’m annoyed by the ways in which Maori words and text are being interpolated into English, and by the obsession with giving every organisation and department a Maori name. I find it eye-rollingly cringe worthy. But that’s not because I don’t like the language: it’s because it won’t achieve the purpose of language survival and revival. It cannot, because it’s the wrong approach.

      And it’s worth restating that it wasn’t evil colonials who suppressed the language. Maori elders in the 19th century petitioned the government, asking that Maori children be taught only in English in the classroom. They wanted their children to be proficient in English: but they expected that those children would still be native speakers of Maori, that Maori would still be the language used in the home.

      And for many years, it was. Were that not the case, it wouldn’t have been possible for my teacher to have been a native speaker. But the language fell out of use.

      Those who are keen for language revival need to look at the lessons to be learned from Ireland. If any country were ideally-positioned to save and revive Its language, it’s Ireland.

      But despite a century of effort, Irish is losing ground against English. When we were there about 20 years ago, Irish was still used in the home, and spoken, in the Gaeltacht areas – the Ring of Kerry, eg – but in the years since, its use has diminished. It’s becoming the second language of urban liberals in Dublin and other cities.

      It may also eventually become like Latin: not extinct, if it’s still being used as a second language, but dead.

  3. Ae. They ‘believe’ its all reels and tika. But they cant understand when I tell them its all just more colonial ideological BS, of ‘Divide & Conquer’ again!
    And then they cancel me, again, and again, and again, and again, and again ….

  4. “As you wait for the caption to explain what is being said”

    I’ve been waiting 22 years, I gave up after about five minutes.

  5. It’s interesting when even the hard left notice it’s getting over the top.

    The trouble comes not from the language itself, which I would agree is a cultural treasure, but from the current social engineering and weaponising te reo, accept or be called a racist, at the same time as unmandated, undebated co governance is being enacted.
    Te reo yes- but not in pidgin mixed sentences-sneaky social engineering and unwanted co governance, absolutely no.

    • Kcco: “Te reo yes- but not in pidgin mixed sentences-sneaky social engineering and unwanted co governance, absolutely no.”

      Nailed it. I’ve always been a supporter of revival and revitalisation of the Maori language. But the strategies used must actually produce results. It’s obvious that what’s been done to date hasn’t been effective.

      And the side order of ethno-nationalism is a complete turn-off.

  6. Haha right on Martyn, Te reo is a gift and if you can speak and understand it all power to you, Like a lot of people I do like to drop a odd greeting and te reo word or three in everyday conversation, but every now and then I get the odd funny or hairy eyeball look not just from fellow wogs or to be more presise gwogs ( grumpy white old guys ) but also from people who are competent in the use of reo in every day use, never the less I do try because I think it’s a nice language and always have done
    Kia pai te ra
    ( probably f****d that up to!)

  7. if two maori speakers want to use te reo, good on ’em go for gold but persisting in addressing non-speakers is a french level of outright rudeness…. I just want to know the price of a tin of beans not a lecture.

    also tv should be subtitled and rnz should translate their screeds of maori…if they really want to further te reo speaking exclusion is not the way to do it.

  8. Te Reo has become like everything else led by the current government. Tainted. I have always had a fondness for listening to the traditional greetings etc which often came across with great Mana. Also found of the 2000s trends towards Maori song.

    Now that pride, that a pakeha person can feel for an adopted culture has fallen away. And no more so to me than through the symbol of oppressive overreach Te Reo has become. From all the precious rubbish over who can use it when and how to the virtue signalling nonsense of the MPC to Stuff’s absolutely abhorrent pidgin and I am so over it.

    Te Reo must be kept alive by Maori within their own homes but open to all comers. With less than 3% of Maori speaking it daily and with a lot of government money poured into it over 20 years, it will probably not survive. Regular Maori speakers have declined over that time. Worldwide this is an overwhelming trend, particularly where English is a main language. The world wants instant, easy communication and despite it being a symbol of colonisation, English is the language of the business world. This will not change.

  9. Personally I don’t believe Maori has any place in our schools as a mandatory subject given the parlous state of our education system and the fact that Maori has no functional value.
    That said, the wonks in Wellington genuinely believe they are doing the right thing by using Maori. It makes my eyes roll, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t genuine.

  10. Just an observation:-
    In my last trip to Fiji, I noticed how Fiji natives were fluent in Fijian language, Indians in North Indian language, and both spoke English as second language. Both Fijian and Indian languages are taught at minority of schools, but both groups were confident in their languages as they spoke in their own language at home (outside of school).

    Fijians did not impose Fijian language on Indian people, and nor did Indian impose Indian language on Fijians. All spoke what they wanted. It was still amazing how many Fijians spoke indian and vice-versa.

    • Good point Benny. Same as in Vanuatu where I observed a lot of the local populace spoke a bit of English and French along with there local language.

  11. “Equally we shouldn’t allow the Professional Managerial Class’s use of Te Reo as a virtue signal ”
    That will be the real problem. All those people’s kids will just add Te Reo to their list of subjects with A+ marks at school and if needed they will continue with it on to University…
    Meanwhile the kids who don’t ‘achieve’ at school will have another blow to their self confidence. Which is not a reason to not encourage the teaching of Te Reo, but I just hope the education profession do have a better idea on how to help those kids, since they have failed pretty badly in the Maths, English and Science field..

  12. A little anecdote from school days 40 years ago. Mid 70’s. My high school started a Maori ‘options’ class for the senior school. An American exchange student with us at the time asked a few Maori kids if they were going to take it and they answered no. We thought that was a bit strange..
    It was only about 30 years later that it occurred to me that they might have spoken Maori! If they did they certainly wouldn’t have been wanting to go to a ‘Let’s learn Maori’ class would they?
    Separately, last year I asked a workmate if he could speak Maori? “Oh yeah”. Hmm, does your father speak it also? “Oh yeah”. In a work place you won’t normally hear foreign/second languages anyway but it was a reminder that there is more going on than one knows.

  13. When I traveled through much of Europe and South America with only 3rd form French under my hat (and 23% on my final exam) I was overwhelmed by how my trying to speak the local language was applauded and never rediculed.

    Spanish, especially has many local twangs from the exaggerated lisp from those from Barcelona (Bath-a-lona) to the how to say ¿Cómo Te Llamas? Is it llamas? Jamas? Shamas? Yamas? Tamas?

    No one was ever precious about how you pronounce words, however the modern day Wellington Maori elite on the other hand? If you’re not pitch perfect with the exaggerated pronunciation you’re just a racist, and so no wonder people don’t try. And I say this as a white boy from Rotorua, who performed in Kapa Haka groups and who still remembers his taiaha training from a week on Mokoia island with Mita Mohi (a man with extraordinary Mana).

    • You’re on to it BG. My kids all did Kapa Haka and are fluent in Marae protocol. Of that I am very proud.
      One of my grandmothers was born in 1880 an grew up to become a sole charge rural school teacher in the South Island . She taught herself Te Reo mainly from publications from the Waimate Mission originally bu they became Education Dept publications. Learning Maori games at sports time was part of the curriculum when I attended primary school , in the South Island as was making and learning poi.
      I am so over the rigid ignorance of the ruling cabal.

      • Gagarin: “…and your criticism is not politically based…”

        Well of course it is. And Bob the first is correct. Attempts at language revival in NZ are politically based.

        And of course the current government is going along with it, both because it believes it’ll help its polling, and because it’s too intimidated by the language mafia to stand up and refuse to countenance its daft ideas.

  14. As a non Maori speaker I’m happy to have it as a subject at school and believe there is great cultural satisfaction for those who choose to learn an speak fluently. The problem I see is that Maori have more incentive to learn and use the language at home where other family members are likely to speak Maori, and in the Marae, or culturally,(KapaHaka)etc. Pakeha might become fluent in Maori to be a part of a new bi cultural beginning for this country, but that’s a big commitment when the opportunities to speak it fluently are more limited. Unless of course they intend to swap the Pakeha culture for Maori culture. To me the result of that is Maori are more likely to want to be fluent in Maori than Pakeha are. Then there’s the Media. It’s now part of their job to speak Maori, not a particular love for the language but a requirement. They are now looking for opportunities to show their new skills, and in the process they’re pissing some of us off. Including me. Some media people now have extended the simple greetings and titles to several sentences of gobblty gook that only those who are fluent in Maori would understand. The state who always knows best has decided this is good for us. This government has chosen to implement lots of things it believes is good for us. Encouraging the Maori language is great but let’s keep it in perspective. I agree with Martyn.

  15. I like seeing and hearing te reo, anywhere. It’s part of our culture that was nearly lost. Our culture, as in NZ/AO, not Pakeha/Maori. I’m white as (Scots mostly) and I only know a bunch of words and little phrases in te reo. My favorite is motoka, it still makes me giggle that one. I grew up in a very white part of South Island and didn’t meet a maori until I was about 10. First Maori teacher was age 15, so we learnt the white pronunciation throughout school. I still can’t roll my tongue correctly, but it’s great to hear others are learning the language. At work we have a couple of Africans who’d talk to each other in Afrikaans. Ya do wonder if they are talking about ya. I have a Cambodian flatmate who speaks Khmer on the phone. It feels weird but I think that’s only because we’re used to only hearing English our whole lives, at least in my case. So it’s not the language spoken that is offensive, it’s just adjusting to change that becomes harder as we age. Captions would be good. YouTube does it easily so can’t everywhere else? I add Morena and Nga mihi to emails sometimes. It’s not hard to make an effort at being inclusive. I don’t see that as virtue signaling, it’s just polite. My Khmer flatmate and I giggle at his pronunciation of English sometimes, he is not at all fluent. Neither of us gets offended because we’re just genuinely trying to communicate and sometimes it’s funny. We have a young white maori at work who rolls her eyes and corrects our te reo pronunciation, but she’s been around the language all her life, so it’s easy for her. She’s young so we don’t get offended by her apparent “elitism”. The more te reo around the better for learning it imo. Just get used to it.

  16. Te Reo Corp is now a multi million dollar business enterprise with consultants being paid to teach HR departments , Government departments and a host of media outlets the correct pronunciation of Te Reo….This does not come cheap I bet. One does not imagine the teachers do this as a volunteer job for the cause and some will see it as another avenue for Iwi elite to remove the tax payer , rate payer , and consumers of their hard earned dollars….Saving a language from extinction does not come cheap and I remember the first time I heard Māori language spoken as a first language in a pub in Kaitaia in 1978. A group of gents were playing pool and relaxing while chatting away in fluent Māori….I have always remembered that afternoon and have often thought that those guys we’re treasures and would have made wonderful Māori language teachers instead of freezing workers or where ever they worked . Whenever I see a Māori initiative taking place in New Zealand I get the uneasy feeling of a gravy train being formed by certain folk that know how to work a committee or have political connections . No politician is going to say no to these people or be labeled a racist and HR folk have to be seen to embrace whatever fluffy wishy washy stuff come their way otherwise they get labeled every fashionable negative name under the sun…They want to keep their jobs and I don’t blame them….The teaching of Te Reo has sadly been hijacked by the overheads and this is sad…Hopefully it will survive even after it becomes out of fashion with the scavengers and they have moved on to the next cause worth saving….It’s a shame the overheads can’t put as much energy into the folk and kids living in cars or teaching young people how to build on a bedroom to a house or other trade life skills….learning Te Reo is great , but learning a trade or life skill , then Te Reo , would be even better…

    • Great comment- it kills me to see bureaucratese in direct translation, somehow pinning down a language of love and song like an investment banker on a trading high.

    • Robs Mob: “Te Reo Corp is now a multi million dollar business enterprise with consultants being paid to teach HR departments , Government departments and a host of media outlets the correct pronunciation of Te Reo….”

      This is being driven by Maori activists, not by pakeha. You can bet your bottom dollar on that.

      “….the first time I heard Māori language spoken as a first language in a pub in Kaitaia in 1978.”

      Those men would very likely have been native speakers. There were still numbers of native speakers in those days, especially in provincial towns and rural areas. I was taught Maori (as it was then called) at that time; it was a native speaker who taught me. I learned the language to a fair degree of fluency, though I’ve forgotten much of what I knew (but not the pronunciation).

      At that time, I worked with Maori, but in truth there was little opportunity to practise my language skills. Even then, many people were reluctant to speak the language with a pakeha, despite there being complaints that we couldn’t speak the language or pronounce words correctly. Sometimes one just can’t win, really.

      “No politician is going to say no to these people or be labeled a racist….”

      Ah, the great “racist” epithet! I’ve noticed that Maori are very fond of chucking that about. As are pakeha urban liberals, of course. Would that there were politicians in NZ courageous enough to call out this nonsense, and able to weather the “racist!” firestorm which would follow.

      “Hopefully it will survive….”

      I doubt that it will. Back in the 70s, there were still native speakers; such people are critical to the survival of any language, not just Maori. Nowadays, the stats suggest that there are none, though there may possibly be some in remote rural areas.

      The language fell off a cliff from about 1980 onward. That’s when the kohanga reo movement began. It was intended to save the language, but hasn’t been effective because it’s the wrong approach. The rise in numbers of kohanga reo and Kura kaupapa has paralleled the fall in numbers of native speakers.

      The language can be saved only in Maori homes, by parents raising their children to be native speakers. Those children must live in a Maori language environment and speak the language as their first and only language for the first few years of their lives. It’s a difficult enterprise, but that’s the only way it would survive.

  17. Ka pai. This below to me is vital to understanding the position. Remembering that everyone is devious, but I think pakeha are the winners in any contest on that.
    Equally we shouldn’t allow the Professional Managerial Class’s use of Te Reo as a virtue signal to masquerade their failures when 27 000 are on emergency housing wait lists, when 200 000 kids are in poverty and when there are more children living in cars than when Labour began in 2017!
    Speaking Māori fluently doesn’t solve any of those problems!

    Our economy has been wrecked by adopting freemarketism and neo-liberal economics. It is completely unprincipled for those who have fashioned this slippery system so they will benefit from it, to live on Cloud Nine and ignore the results of the devastation of a plucky little economy that was trying to become fairer and more principled, as well as maintain a practical level of trade and enterprise. The principles were murdered. In a true revolution , the principals would also have been murdered. But we are trying to come to terms with our position and some of us are trying to retain our humanity and regain our principles. Why is it so hard to face up to that fact and act to redress the damage before we lose all of what we were and our way back?

    • Well said Greywarbler….Unfortunately the ability to “redress the damage before we lose all of what we were” has long gone….It’s certainly not going to change with the rabble we have in parliament and the dismissal selection of parties we have to vote from….

    • Greywarbler: “Remembering that everyone is devious, but I think pakeha are the winners in any contest on that.”

      Best not to hang that one solely on pakeha. Deviousness is part of the human condition: it isn’t dependent upon skin colour or culture.

      The professional managerial class contains many Maori nowadays. And of course the MSM employs a lot of Maori.

      From what I’ve seen, Maori activists are pushing the revitalisation of the language (for the second time at least in my lifetime, I’d add), and the most influential have no idea how languages work, or which strategies would be the most efficacious. And pakeha are too intimidated – and too scared of being labelled “racist!” – and putting their jobs at risk – to question any of it.

      This bit: “….27 000 are on emergency housing wait lists, when 200 000 kids are in poverty and when there are more children living in cars than when Labour began in 2017!”

      The Maori activists pushing language revitalisation are largely middle class and educated. But the people referred to above are the poor and disadvantaged, and disproportionately Maori. And these are the people the PMC are apparently ignoring, in their pursuit of language chauvinism.

      “Speaking Māori fluently doesn’t solve any of those problems!”

      Exactly. One cannot eat, wear or live in, any language.

      Those in the public service have jobs because of the government. It’s not the other way about. The government needs to develop the courage to do the right thing by the poor, and ignore all the virtue-signalling on the part of the PMC.

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