Waitangi Tribunal Approves Urgent Inquiry into Government’s Te Reo Māori Policies: Ngai Te Rangi Takes Action

The Waitangi Tribunal has granted approval for an urgent inquiry into the impact of coalition government policies on te reo Māori, following an application by Tauranga-based iwi Ngai Te Rangi. This move comes amid claims that the government has failed in its Treaty obligation to safeguard the Māori language.

Waitangi Tribunal Approves Urgent Inquiry into Government's Te Reo Māori Policies: Ngai Te Rangi Takes Action

Ngai Te Rangi’s Assertion:
Ngai Te Rangi, represented by Trust chair Charlie Tawhiao, asserts widespread support for their claim, emphasizing the need for a systematic examination of government policies affecting te reo Māori.

Concerns Raised:
In its application, Ngai Te Rangi highlighted several concerns, including the removal of Māori names from ministries and the introduction of ACT’s Treaty Principles Bill. These actions, it argues, contravene Article 2 of the Treaty, as well as the Māori Language Act and the Bill of Rights.

Crown’s Response:
The Crown, in a memorandum to the tribunal, opposed the urgent inquiry, citing the premature nature of the investigation, particularly regarding the Treaty Principles Bill. It clarified that the government has not prohibited the use of Māori names or language but has implemented a policy prioritizing English as the primary language in the public sector.

Challenges Faced by the Crown:
Tawhiao acknowledges the challenges faced by the Crown and the Tribunal, as some matters raised have not yet materialized as policy. However, he stresses the collective concern of both Māori and non-Māori communities regarding the protection of te reo.

Additional Action by Waikato Tainui:
In a separate development, Waikato Tainui has initiated legal proceedings in the High Court seeking assurances from the Crown regarding its commitment to protecting te reo Māori. This action reflects growing apprehension over statements made by Ministers and within Cabinet that appear to contradict obligations to Māori.

The approval of the urgent inquiry by the Waitangi Tribunal signals a significant step towards addressing concerns surrounding government policies impacting te reo Māori. With both Ngai Te Rangi and Waikato Tainui taking proactive measures, the protection and promotion of the Māori language remain at the forefront of discussions surrounding Treaty obligations and indigenous rights in New Zealand.

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