17. Do we really need to teach Maori to all children? Wouldn't it be better to make it compulsory for all schools to offer it, but allow opt-outs?

17. Do we really need to teach Maori to all children? Wouldn't it be better to make it compulsory for all schools to offer it, but allow opt-outs?

Answer

This is New Zealand, we are unique. We have a treaty that in essence says that the two signatories (Maori and Tau Iwi or non-Maori) have a duty of care to each other – so two societies that share this land, flourish and each is able to fulfill its aspirations. The key to societies understanding each other is language and respect. Language is the key to understanding cultural differences. There are two languages here – why would you even think of excluding one for the other? It just feels like chauvinism (apart from the reality that is protected under Article 2). Interestingly very young children can learn two (or more) languages seamlessly if given the opportunity – it is just natural. That is the ideal – the issue is the pathway. To suggest the 3Rs in your language are more important is to create a trade-off that doesn’t even exist.