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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974



The course now proposed by the Education Department us yet another example of tokenism, and as such is designed to fail.

As we have shown, the [unclear: aims] and requirements fail to give effect to the intentions of those presenting the petition to Parliament in 1972.

In fact, it is not surprising that the Education Department has come up with such an inadequte scheme, for it has always been reluctant to see Maori introduced into schools.

For what other language has it been necessary to present a petition signed by 33,000 people to Parliament? Latin, Greek, French and German were all introduced without any pressure from the public, and no mass movement was needed to have Japanese or Indonesian adopted as school subjects. The introduction of all these languages is the result of simple adherence to European academic traditions, or of concessions of the needs of overseas trade. But in the case of Maori, New Zealand's own language, the Department will only permit a 'pilot scheme', to be repeated only if 'public demand' requires it. It is obvious from this that the Education Department does not regard the teaching of languages other than English as a means of creating understanding between people. It is significant that languages spoken by the main minority groups from overseas, e.g. Samoan, Tongan, Indian, Rarotongan, Niuean, Dutch, Dalmation or Chinese, with the exception of the last, are not taught at any level within the New Zealand education system. This task is left entirely to voluntary groups who see the importance of language as a means towards developing cultural understanding and identity. The Education Department obviously does not see this as important, or it would have done something long ago.

Drawing of stick figure school master and children playing sport

It is for the same reason that the Department is unwilling to make any real effort to introduce Maori into schools, and no effort whatsoever to introduce it into primary schools, where it could be learnt as a living language.