Trade Minister Tim Groser has stated that he believes that Maori should be taught in schools from age 5 upwards. He told TV3′s The Nation:
“What I think should happen is that you introduce very young children from New Zealand to the idea of biculturalism and more than one language, and then they will be able to learn other languages as their personal circumstances fit.”
Groser’s opinion was echoed by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.
“There is plenty of research evidence to say that being bilingual is a huge advantage intellectually, educationally and socially. The Maori Party thinks Maori should be ‘compulsorily available’ in all schools, and various public opinion surveys show most New Zealanders support that stance.
I also think all Maori children should have access to Maori-medium education, which produces fluent speakers of Maori; and the government is working on a range of initiatives to help that happen.
I am leading the development of a new Maori Language Strategy to guide government policy on language revitalisation, so we get the best outcome for the language for the money we invest. Maori whanau and hapu must lead efforts to maintain Maori as a living language in this country, and the Government needs to be systematic and co-ordinated in our support.
It is very heartening to see that most New Zealanders want te reo Maori to be spoken in Aotearoa, and the idea of all children being able to learn Maori at school, which might once have been considered controversial, is now mainstream thinking,” said Dr Sharples.