Nanaia Mahuta reiterates plan for compulsory te reo Māori

The AM Show 09/05/2018

The Government is divided on compulsory Te Reo in schools, but Nanaia Mahuta is refusing to back down.

The Māori Development Minister told The AM Show that it's just "a matter of time".

"It's not if, it's when," she told host Duncan Garner.

It's not if, it's when.

"A lot more New Zealanders - non-Māori - are speaking Te Reo because they know it's a way to engage with the Māori economy."

Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson made similar comments last year. However they both have come under fire from NZ First leader Winston Peters, who has categorically ruled it out for the immediate future.

"Neither of them are speaking for the Government policy full stop," Mr Peters said this week.

"If they want to be in this Government they'll be on the same page."

Ms Mahuta might also face an uphill battle in her own party. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that while she will commit to making the language "universally available", she won't make it compulsory.

The Green Party is pushing for compulsory te reo Māori in schools, but its Confidence and Supply agreement with Labour lacks any reference to compulsory education.

Ms Mahuta acknowledges it's a "huge challenge", but says the first step is to "build the pool of teachers".

"In terms of our education system, we can do some really valuable things now. The first step will be to build the pool of teachers who can teach across all curriculum areas in te reo Māori," she says.

"I am encouraged by the direction the Minister of Education is taking to ensure that there is teachers' supply, which includes Māori teachers."

Watch the full interview with Nanaia Mahuta above.

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.