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Should Te Reo Be Compulsory in All NZ Schools?

Introduction to Defining Māori Language Revitalisation

Te Reo, also known as Māori, is the language spoken by the indigenous people of New Zealand. The language gained recognition as one of the three New Zealand's official languages in 1945. Te Reo although originally has no writing system, the language is still attempted to be written using Latin script. The government has launched 12.2-million-dollar pilot program to support the use of Māori language in various schools in New Zealand. Since the language is an intrinsic part of the country’s heritage, schools should consider providing the learning of the language to the children which will in-turn keep the country's heritage alive. This paper will highlight the importance of Te Reo and shall put forth the arguments for making Te Reo a compulsory language in all schools of New Zealand.

Importance of Te Reo Incorporation in School Curriculum

Other than English, Māori is one of the common languages used by children in New Zealand. The existence of this language relies on its transmission from elders to the new generation of children. The language has undergone various revitalization efforts over the years (Albury, 2018). These programs help the new speakers with little to no language exposure to learn the language and keep the country's heritage alive. Census from the year 2013 shows that only 13% of the total 600,000 New Zealanders are fluent in Māori and, 21.31% can speak the language to some extent. The viability of the language relies on the future generation of children (Tan, 2016). According to the census, 40,263 children in New Zealand are aged between 2 to 18 years and most of them, which are one-third of the population of children, live in a household where they have adult guidance for learning the language and thus are exposed to the language in their home (Poulopoulos, 2017). Most of the children with such guidance are speakers of Māori but the rate of transmission of this language is unlikely for the children living in the household with no adult guidance. This being the reason, such children are unaware of the country's heritage language (Samoa Bureau of Statistics, 2017). This is where the role of schools incorporating the language in its curriculum can prove to help save the country's heritage and transfer the importance and succession of the language to the future generations.

From the past few years, the teachers and the community as a whole is forcing the government towards the development of a curriculum for teaching the Te Reo language in schools (Albury, 2016). For more than 85% of children studying in schools, English is their main language with no second language. Since Māori has been the country's official language and a part of country's social, economical and traditional outline, it is very important to keep this language alive for the future generation by including it into the curriculum (Hindman et al., 2016). Although English is the primary language of New Zealand, various public and private sectors still use Te Reo as a secondary language. The department of internal affairs and other local places such as libraries and government offices display signs in Te Reo (Statistics New Zealand, n.d.). During the New Zealand parliament session an interpreter is appointed when a member speaks in Te Reo language (nzhistory.govt.nz, n.d.). These are some of the examples by which this language stays to be an integral part the country, and the danger of loss of this language should be recognized and steps to incorporate the language in school curriculum should be taken as a restorative program to keep the language alive, especially among the children from their infancy to adult age.

Conclusion on Defining Māori Language Revitalisation

The existence of Te Reo language relies on its transmission from elders to the new generation of children, as the language has undergone various revitalization efforts over the years one of them being the efforts of New Zealanders to add the language in the school curriculum, to shape young minds by helping the new speakers with little to no language exposure to learn the language and keep the country's heritage alive. The danger of loss of the local language should be recognized and steps to incorporate the language in school curriculum should be taken as a restorative process to keep the language and heritage alive, especially among the children from their infancy to adult age.

References for Defining Māori Language Revitalisation

Albury, N. J. (2016). Defining Māori language revitalisation: A project in folk linguistics. Journal of Sociolinguistics20(3), 287-311.

Albury, N. J. (2018). “If We Lose Their Language We Lose Our History”: Knowledge and Disposition in Māori Language Acquisition Policy. Journal of Language, Identity & Education17(2), 69-84.

Hindman, A. H., Wasik, B. A., & Snell, E. K. (2016). Closing the 30-million-word gap: Next steps in designing research to inform practice, Child Development Perspectives. 10, 134–9.

nzhistory.govt.nz (n.d.). History of Maori Language. Retrieved from: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/maori-language-week/history-of-the-maori-language

Poulopoulos, A. (2017). Otaki in the running to be New Zealand’s first officially bilingual town. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/92132723/otaki-in-the-running-to-be-new-zealands-first-officially-bilingual-town#:~:text=Otaki%2C%20where%20the%20Maori%20language,pushed%20by%20the%20Maori%20Party

Tan, L. (2016). Migrant youth in NZ face daily struggle with identity. Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11640203

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