Te reo rangatira

Posted By TEU on Dec 8, 2014 |

TEU policy endorsed by Annual Conference 2014

Tōku reo, tōku ohooho; tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea

My language is my awakening; my language is the window to my soul

1)     Introduction – by Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru

Tapu and mana are fundamental principles of life and natural law, guided by boundaries of respect and safety, protected by tikanga Māori and Māori law.

From tapu and mana comes tikanga Māori which expresses the ideas and principles of “kia tika, kia pono, kia mārama”.  Tika means to be upright, honest and correct.  Pono is to believe in the sanctity of life.  Mārama is the importance of knowledge, understanding, and enlightenment.

It is through the application of these principles and their integration into the practice and protection of tapu and mana that we are able to make headway through difficult periods and enjoy and uphold the principles of life.

Tapu and mana are interrelated with te reo Māori and tikanga Māori; they are inextricably and complimentarily intertwined, however, one can be present without the other.  For example, the marae cooks may not have te reo Māori but they understand and are able to give expression to tikanga Māori by hosting manuhiri and offering hospitality.

2)    Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to further acknowledge and define the union’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, as it relates to the promotion and protection of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.  This includes TEU’s own responsibilities as an organisation and in our work within tertiary education institutions.

3)    Policy statement

Article Two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi recognises te reo Māori as a taonga requiring protection.  In 1985 the WAI11 claim sought to have this recognised by the Crown.   The Waitangi Tribunal supported the claimants in its 1986 report, noting that the language “…is an essential part of the culture and must be regarded as a valued possession” and so requiring protection.  Following this report, the Māori Language Act of 1987 declared te reo Māori an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand.  Whilst not prescriptive, it sets an expectation that where te reo Māori is used as a first choice, there will be an acceptance that it is appropriate to do so.  The Māori Language Act also set up Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) which is responsible for ensuring that the Crown is an active partner with Māori in working to ensure the revival and retention of te reo Māori.  Beyond this official recognition, supporting the retention and revitialisation of te reo Māori and the practice of tikanga Māori are important for all who live in this country, because both form part of our identity as a nation.

Consistent with its commitment to partnership and honouring the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and its committment to supporting quality provision of tertiary education, the TEU Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa is resolved to address its own obligations as an organisation with regard to te reo Māori and tikanga Māori and their use in the delivery of tertiary education.

In developing this policy, the TEU is mindful of the expectations set out in the State Sector Act 1988 (section 77a), the Education Act 1989, and subsequent amendments.  The TEU also recognises government strategy documents such as Te Rautaki Reo Māori 2003 and 2014, Te Reo Mauriora 2011, (Te Puni Kōkiri), and Tau Mai Te Reo 2013 (Ministry of Education).  In addition the TEU recognises the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal report of 2011 (WAI262) relating to indigenous flora and fauna and cultural and intellectual property and New Zealand’s responsibilities as a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.[1]  International declarations and conventions have led States to modify their policies towards national language groups and to grant indigenous peoples additional rights in terms of supporting their languages.

4)     Implementation

Within the TEU

Consistent with the TEU policy “Te Tiriti o Waitangi” (2011), in particular clause eight, the union will promote the use and practice of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori, (including supporting correct pronunciation and dialectical differences) by providing opportunities for staff, officers and national committee members to develop their skill and understanding in these matters. Support could include active participation in events like Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week).

To this end, the union will investigate developing and implementing a suitable programme, in discussion with Te Kāhui Kaumātua, Te Toi Ahurangi and Te Hau Tikanga o te Tiriti

Within tertiary education institutions

The use of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori in teaching, research and assessment

The TEU supports the right of staff to deliver teaching, research and assessment in te reo Māori, and to integrate the values and practices associated with tikanga Māori into their workplaces, including undertaking roles that may be specific to wāhine (women) or tāne (men).  As such, the TEU will work to ensure these rights are promoted in bargaining for collective agreements, and other organising work.

A number of tertiary education providers have already developed their own policies and practices around the promotion and use of te reo Māori as an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand.  The TEU will support all tertiary institutions to further develop, implement, and effect te reo Māori policies and practices.

In addition, the TEU will work to encourage institutions to implement processes such as ensuring all staff computers are able to use a Māori macron facility.

Delivery of courses with compulsory te reo Māori and tikanga

The TEU recognises that where staff deliver programmes with compulsory te reo Māori and/or tikanga Māori elements, they may experience the negative effects of feedback from students who are resistant to the programmes.  The TEU will work with tertiary education employers to secure recognition from them that such negative effects occur, and to put in place mechanisms to relieve staff from such stressors.  Such mechanisms may include rotation across programmes and alternative methods for measuring student feedback.[2]

At the policy level, the TEU will also work with institutions to ensure that current or future te reo Māori and tikanga policy recognises a staff member’s right to use te reo Māori in teaching and assessment, and to continually extend students’ comprehension by providing feedback in te reo Māori (particularly when the programme is above beginners level or is an immersion programme).  Policies should balance this right with a student’s right to learn and comprehend, and the use of English may sometimes facilitate this (particularly in beginner level programmes).

5)    Professional development

There are a range of courses and qualifications available to develop and advance te reo Māori skills and knowledge, these include:

  1. Te Ataarangi language programmes which have been at the forefront of te reo Māori revitalisation since 1979. For more information call 0800 282-272 or visit www.teataarangi.org.nz
  2. Examinations to assess fluency run by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori which assess te reo Māori ability and offer an assessment system which includes three examinations, the Level Finder (general knowledge), Public Sector Māori Language Proficiency (public servants), and Teaching Sector Māori Language Proficiency (teachers). For more information call 04 471-0244 or visit kōrero.maori.nz/forlearners/testself.html  Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (translators and interpreters certificate) offers a written and oral examination called Te Toi Reo Māori.  The examinations are free, however, participants are responsible for their own travel to and from the examinations.  For more information call 04 471-0244 or visit http://www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz/english/new_e/workshops.shtml
  3. Mā Te Reo (kura reo) courses which target those who use the Māori language as an everyday medium of tuition and/or communication and aim to increase the use and competence of Māori by speakers. Māori is the only language spoken on the courses and participants are expected to have a reasonable grasp of the language.  For further information please contact a Mā Te Reo Project Advisor on 0800 MA TE REO (628 373) or email mtr@tetaurawhiri.govt.nz.  Iwi and hapū hold kura reo-ā-iwi courses regularly throughout the year and the TEU supports staff being able to access these programmes as part of their professional development.

Many tertiary education institutions also offer courses from Level 1 certificates to degrees and above.  Contact an institution near you for more information.

Institutions may also wish to develop lists of staff who are proficient in te reo Māori and/or tikanga Māori (similar to the register that Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori keeps for people conferred with their Māori Translators and/or Interpreters licence).  Such an approach recognises that some individuals may be fluent in te reo Māori, while others may have skills or knowledge to offer regarding tikanga.

The TEU will continue to advocate on behalf of its members for appropriate allocation of time and resources for professional development that supports the development of skills and knowledge in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

6)     Other applicable policies

TEU policy “Te Tiriti o Waitangi” 22 November 2011

7)     Review date

November 2016

Appendix 1: UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

Article 13

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate
  2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means.

Article 14

  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
  2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.
  3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.

Policy authorised by Annual Conference November 2014


  1. Included as Appendix 1
  2. Megan Hall and Krissi Jerram, have produced an excellent publication, A Guide to Teaching Māori Content in University Courses, which outlines Māori content, setting achievable goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods for delivery, etc.  The Guide is available online at http://www.cad.vuw.ac.nz/wiki/images/1/1c/TeachingM%C4%81oriContentbooklet.pdf
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