Toitū te whenua, toitū te mana, toitū te reo

Our land and our language are important markers of Māori identity, these are also the focus of two important pieces of legislation which will be introduced into Parliament in the next year.

Published: Rāmere, 07 Hereturikōkā, 2015 | Friday, 7 August 2015

Our land and our language are important markers of Māori identity, these are also the focus of two important pieces of legislation which will be introduced into Parliament within a year. As the Māori Development Minister I want to ensure we have taken great care with the drafting of these laws so they achieve the intended outcomes.

The review of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 is in response to long-standing frustration with the current legal framework. The changes proposed are designed to give Māori land owners greater decision-making powers over their land while still ensuring Māori ownership to those land blocks is retained.

Because of the significance of this legislative reform, I took the unusual step of releasing the draft bill publicly before it was introduced into Parliament. More than 1200 people attended hui around the country and many more have conducted their own workshops including wānanga organised by local Te Puni Kōkiri offices. The bill has yet to go to Parliament and when it does, there will be a further opportunity for you to consider the proposed changes and have your views heard.

As a result of the feedback we received during this recent consultation round, and from the advice of my Ture Whenua Advisory Group and Te Puni Kōkiri, I’ve announced my intention to delay the introduction of the Ture Whenua Māori Bill until next year.

It’s important that the proposed Māori Land Service and the Ture Whenua Network align at the same time as the bill is being prepared so the public are able to see the combined effect of all those changes. The Māori Land Service is intended to provide support and advice to landowners and governance bodies, while the Network will consider issues such as landlocked land and valuation.

I am pleased that the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill is on track to go back to Parliament for its second reading later this year. The bill had its first reading last year and with the expert advice from the Māori Language Advisory Group and feedback from the public consultation hui, you can expect some refinements to the bill. The fundamental goal of ensuring iwi and Māori language advocates lead the revitalisation of te reo Māori remains the same, but I believe further work will strengthen the Bill even more. You can view more details on the model put forward by the Māori Language Advisory Group Te Whare o Te Reo Mauriora and a summary of their draft report here.

Last month, I had the privilege of launching Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori at Waiwhetū Marae in Lower Hutt. It is always wonderful to see the surge of effort people make to use the language more frequently and the focus that the week brings to the hard issues around our language loss and the battle to restore it as a living language – he reo ora. This year’s theme, Whāngaihia te Reo ki ngā Mātua, is focussed on encouraging parents and caregivers to speak Māori to their tamariki and mokopuna. It is often said that it takes one generation to lose a language and three generations to get it back. Under the current conditions, we have much to do to ensure that our language is alive and well. You can find some great resources on the website of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

During Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori I gave a number of speeches about what we can all do to support the survival of our beautiful language. We can all do our bit whether it’s with our babies at home or in the workplace. Kia kaha tātou katoa ki te kōrero i te reo Māori ahakoa te nui, ahakoa ki hea!

Nāku noa,

nā Te Ururoa Flavell