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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 22. 14th September 1972

Learn The Maori Language (a translation)

Learn The Maori Language (a translation)

Teaching of the Maori language in our schools is to be increased a little. It needs to be increased a lot.

New Zealand is a nation inhabited by two peoples. We are learning to be one people, but we no longer think that the best way to become one people is for the Maori people to discard all their distinctive ways and become brown-skinned Pakehas. For a long time this was the aim of the educational authorities. The Maori language being the basis of a person's Maoritanga, its use was discouraged. Children speaking their mother-tongue in the school playground were liable to be punished. It was believed that this would help a young person 'get on' in a European world. Yet the effect was to disparage the language, and the person, brought up to speak it. It was also believed that a pupil grounded in Maori would be less likely to do well in English and in subjects taught in English.

Even if this were true, a language should not be allowed to die so lightly. It is a unique expression of a people. A pupil with a thorough knowledge of his own tongue is likely to do better in other languages and subjects. Fortunately the Maori language showed more vitality than was expected, but much damage was done. Maori survived, but was not often thoroughly taught. English was used, but often in an inadequate form. The Maori pupil, impoverished in language, was often ill-equipped for further learning. Yet this is not the whole story. Potentially the young Maori is privileged. He has a fool in each of two rich coutures. He has the opportunity he should be allowed to build on: an opportunity which Pakeha children should be allowed to share. For New Zealand will be immeasurably poorer if one culture disappears before the advance of the other.

We will be poorer if all that happens is that detached bits, without roots, are adopted into the Pakeha culture - as with the haka and Maori costume. Both cultures must survive, inter-mingling and enriching one another, and the key to both is language.

It is drawn to the attention of students that the University endeavours to provide special examination facilities for those with physical disabilities and for others in exceptional circumstances during the October/November degree examinations. For example, in past years a student with a broken leg and several pregnant students have been assisted in this way. Students who wish to make use of such facilities should contact either the Clerk of Examinations in the Robert Stout Building or one of the Student Welfare Services.

Students are advised to read the aegrotat regulations on pages 92-94 in the University Calendar. If you are in doubt about the value of submitting an aegrotat application, enquiries should be directed to the Clerk of Examinations or the Liaison Officers or a member of the Welfare Services staff.