Winston Peters takes aim at Māori language

Fresh from seeking to have Māori seats wiped off the face of the earth, Winston Peters is now taking aim at te reo Māori, says Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

The New Zealand First leader accused Mr Flavell of “hiding behind the Māori language” after the Māori Development Minister gave an answer to a question in the House today in te reo.

Mr Peters was forced to withdraw and apologise by the Speaker of the House.

“This is just more anti-Māori rhetoric from Winston. Every chance he gets he puts the boot in,” says Mr Flavell.

“Te reo has been an official language since 1985 and parliamentary speeches in te reo are interpreted for those who are not fluent.  In 1997, in the same year that Cabinet agreed that the Crown and Māori have a duty, derived from the Treaty of Waitangi, to take all reasonable steps to actively enable the survival of Māori as a living language, Speaker of the House Doug Kidd ruled that MPs speaking in Māori do so as of right and an interpreter is provided.

“To accuse me of hiding behind my native tongue harks back to an age when Māori were actively discouraged from speaking te reo. I thought we were living in the 21st Century – not the 19th Century,” says Mr Flavell.

“Winston and his Hobson’s Pledge mates might wish we were living in the past but I’ve got news for them – we’re not.”

“Our language deserves to be celebrated, deserves to be heard in Parliament and to accuse someone of hiding behind it deserves to be called out,” says party co-leader Marama Fox.

“First it was calling for Māori seats to be banned, now Winston’s taken a shot at the Māori language.

“It is more backward-looking nonsense from New Zealand First which is intent on fostering division, but it is hardly surprising coming from a party that was the only one to vote against Te Pire mō te Reo Māori / Māori Language Bill last year,” says Ms Fox.