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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Waka Reo: National Language Policy > 2012 > April

Te Waka Reo: National Language Policy

ISSN 1178-0967 April, 2012

News & Issues

I Am Deaf – Let’s Talk

Each May, Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand organises NZSL Week – a celebration of one of the country’s official languages, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

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This year, New Zealand Sign Language Week   will be celebrated from 30 April – 6 May.

NZSL Week helps promote the language as well as raise awareness about New Zealand’s Deaf community and the issues/challenges its members face each day. 

The awareness week is a chance for the Deaf Community to stand proud as Deaf and promote their language and culture.  It also provides an opportunity to advocate for Deaf rights, as defined by the UN’s Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities. NZSL Week is a chance for Deaf New Zealanders to 'put their hands up' and be ‘heard’

Through "Learn @ home, @ work, @ play" Deaf Aotearoa will introduce all New Zealanders to signs they can use everyday. The not-for-profit organisation will be holding free Taster NZSL classes throughout the country.  These classes are held in conjunction with workplaces, organisations and community groups throughout the country.  The Taster classes will also run at public community centres. 

To support the learning of NZSL, Deaf Aotearoa has developed three high-quality resource booklets, which feature easy to learn, everyday vocabulary.   NZSL finger spelling cards and posters are also available to help encourage learning of this great visual language.

This year, Deaf Aotearoa will take its Taster classes into schools.  Trained Deaf community tutors will visit local schools and use highly interactive worksheets to inspire students to learn NZSL and utilise the newly-launched online NZSL dictionary.

Deaf Aotearoa also offers schools:

  • The NZSL Tool Kit - a comprehensive two part teaching programme, which includes easy to follow lesson plans and an interactive DVD.
  • The chance to learn the National Anthem in all three official New Zealand languages with a high-quality teaching DVD
  • Provide advice on other resources and information available about Deaf education.

NZSL Week will be celebrated throughout the country with a wide range of local events and activities.  To register your interest in having a Deaf tutor visit your school or workplace or to order any Deaf Aotearoa teaching resources please email nzsign@deaf.org.nz or visit www.nzsign.co.nz for taster classes and activities in your area.

Samoan Language Week will take place from Sunday 27 May to Saturday 2 June, starting with launch events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and Samoan Independence Day commemorations planned for the weekend of 2-3 June (Queen’s Birthday weekend).

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This year’s theme is “O le Vāfealoa’i”  “Strong and Respectful Relationships”.

2012 is also the 50th anniversary of Samoa Independence and separately New Zealand’s continuing relations with Samoa through the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.  Both these anniversaries will be celebrated during 2012 with particular attention on Samoa Independence Day 1 June and the signing of the Treaty of Friendship 1 August.  See the Samoa 2012 website.

Families, early childhood centres, schools and tertiary education institutions, government departments, city councils, libraries, employers and unions, media, churches and community groups are all encouraged to undertake activities in support of Samoan Language Week. You are invited to register your activity by emailing nzdiversity@hrc.co.nz so that it can be published on the website and promoted as part of the week’s activities.

Samoan Language Week is an opportunity to celebrate the Samoan language in New Zealand, to recognise the language and culture of Samoan New Zealanders, to build bridges between cultures and to ensure that the language continues to be used widely in New Zealand in the future.

For more information visit the Samoan Language Week website. Samoan Language Week also has a very active Facebook page with over 5,000 participants worldwide.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – 23-29 July

Arohatia te Reo is the theme for Māori Language Week 2012. Arohatia te Reo means to cherish the language and this year it is intended to encourage all people to demonstrate their love and regard for the language.

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No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do, we encourage the whole nation to find a way to express how and in what ways they use, honour, speak and thereby show their love for the language.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori will be launched with an event at Te Awa, The Base in Hamilton on Monday, 23 July, at 8.30am. The launch is being celebrated by performers from local kura, retailers own promotions, give-away breakfast snacks and the week being opened by government officials and Tainui dignitaries. You are welcome to come along for a morning snack, some inspiring entertainment and to preview Māori Language Week resources.

All Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori resources for 2012 will be available to download online by 1 June 2012.

Māori Language Awards open on 1June 2012. Start thinking now what your organisation can do not only to celebrate Māori Language Week but also to enter the awards. To get some ideas visit Korero Māori online.

Cherishing Pacific languages

A recent forum saw collective commitment to the value of Pacific languages. The forum, on 27 March, was attended by over 140 people.

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The forum was jointly organised by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, the Bilingual Leo Pacific Coalition, the Human Rights Commission, Auckland Council and the University of Auckland.  Rev Uesifili Unasa, chair of the Auckland Council Pacific People’s Advisory Panel, hosted the forum, which included plenary sessions from such distinguished speakers as Her Excellency, Mrs O’love Jacobsen, High Commissioner for Niue, and Pa Marie Te Ariki Upokotiri – Paramount Chief of Takitumu – Rarotonga. 

Attendees called for the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs to host a follow-up meeting and a separate youth forum so participants can follow up on conversations started on the day and can plan concrete actions in support of Pacific language use and preservation.

A wide variety of workshops gave participants an opportunity to hear about the efforts of universities, government departments and informal groups to preserve and support Pacific languages.  Participants asked searching questions, contributed their comments, and shared their own journeys of language richness, loss or rediscovery.  All those present were passionate to see their languages maintained and used to support the social, cultural, spiritual and economic wellbeing of Pacific children, families and communities.

The Waitangi Tribunal held hearings in March for the Kōhanga Reo National Trust’s claim against the Ministry of Education.

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About 300 workers and supporters of kōhanga reo attended to hear opening submissions from the Trust’s counsel, Mai Chen.

The Trust’s application for urgent hearing of claims was initially lodged in concern about the Early Childhood Education Taskforce’s report of June last year and how the Government might respond.

The Trust’s claim alleges that they have not been provided protection and autonomy by the Ministry of Education and are forced to fit within mainstream early childhood education frameworks. For example, Kōhanga Reo are required to employ qualified early childhood educators and funding is allocated on the basis of the number of qualified teachers. This conflicts with the qualifications devised by the Trust specifically to provide for the kaupapa of parents and whānau learning alongside children. The Trust also notes it has not been given sufficient priority in consultations with the Government and that their requests to participate in the research for the Taskforce report were ignored.

The Trust proposes kōhanga reo-specific legislation. It says this will allow greater whānau control and responsibility, while still being accountable for public funding and allowing the Crown to carry out its Treaty duty of active protection.

A decision is expected in April.

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust, and many kōhanga reo around the country, will mark their 30th anniversary this year.

Talking to babies in te reo

The NZ Herald reports a new study has found that 16 per cent of mothers and 12 per cent of fathers spoke at least some Māori language to their babies.

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The Growing Up in NZ study director Dr Susan Morton said this was one of the big surprises in their first post-birth interviews with parents of 9 month old babies.

Earlier interviews during pregnancy found that only 5 per cent of mothers and 3.5 per cent of fathers could hold a conversation in Māori. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the study's 6846 babies were described by their mothers as Māori.

But 32 per cent of all babies had more than one ethnicity - 69 per cent were NZ European, 21.3 per cent Pacific, 16.9 per cent Asian, 2.8 per cent Middle Eastern, Latin American or African and 4 per cent other ethnicities.

Two-thirds of the mothers speaking Māori to their babies were Māori themselves, representing almost all of the 18 per cent of mothers who were Māori. But a third of those speaking te reo to their babies were not Māori.

English is still dominant. Asked which language they spoke most to the baby, 79.6 per cent of mothers said English and only 0.7 per cent said Māori.

In 2011 the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs consulted on the Draft Pacific Languages Framework. 

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All feedback expressed the view that more should be done to promote, support and maintain Pacific languages in New Zealand. However there was considerable diversity of opinion about how this should be done.

The Ministry has now published a summary of all the feedback they received, indicating how feedback might be integrated in the development of the Pacific Languages Framework. The summary is available at the Ministry's website.

In response to high levels of interest, Eurasia is opening a branch in central Wellington this month. It will offer language and cultural courses, delivered in conjunction with Wellington partner English Teaching College (ETC).

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The manager of the school in Wellington is veteran language professional Marty Pilott.

Euroasia Director Kenneth Leong describes Euroasia’s role as "connecting people across cultures. Euroasia has a role in promoting greater cross-cultural understanding as New Zealand becomes more culturally diverse." Language skills are crucial to connecting people across cultures.

Although there are other organisations offering foreign language teaching, a few things about Euroasia make it a little different:

  • Specialisation in European and Asian languages other than English (including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese etc).
  • Teachers are native speakers, and offer interesting cultural input.
  • Specially designed curriculum taking into account unique requirements of New Zealanders.
  • Each course is designed in consultation with the students to meet their needs.

Euroasia's foreign language classes have been attended by over 3,000 New Zealanders in the past 5 years. Euroasia courses in Auckland and Wellington are available through evening classes, in-company tuition or online learning. Cross-cultural consulting and translation services are also offered. Euroasia’s clients include many of New Zealand’s leading corporate and government organisations.

The Disability Resource Centre is a not-for-profit community focused organisation committed to meeting the needs of disabled people, older persons and their families/whanau.

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The centre’s Mandarin service has now been extended to three days now from Monday to Wednesday. Cantonese service is from Thursday to Friday.

For more information visit the Disability Resource Centre website.

Future Events

Working in a Multicultural Environment

Settlement Support New Zealand New Plymouth is running a free Working in a Multicultural Environment Workshop for service providers on Tuesday 8 May 2012.

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This is a workshop suitable for those who work in a multicultural environment and will give them a great opportunity to discover the impact of cultural differences on the behaviour of people in their communication. It will also help to adjust interaction style to the needs of people at work from other cultures and manage the ambiguity of intercultural situations. For more information please contact 06-7591088 or email ssnp@xtra.co.nz.

The NZ Chinese Language Association Wellington Branch invites you to its AGM on Thursday 26 April at 7.00 pm, Committee Room One, Wellington City Council (Wakefield Street Entrance).

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The guest speaker will be Dr. Dongfang Wang, visiting research fellow in the China Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. Dr Wang will talk about the development of volunteer work in China.

To RSVP contact Vera Xu Ph04 589 3700 / 027 266 9283.

Mandarin Corner and Chinese Game

Mandarin Corner meets 3.15 pm, Saturdays during school terms at Room 103, 24 Kelburn Parade, Victoria University of Wellington.

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The group will host Chinese Game Weiqi (Go) on 28 April. All welcome. Gold coin donation.

Contact: Ellen Yang, 473-7558, 027-4756888.

International Languages Week

International Languages Week will take place Sunday 19 to Saturday 25 August 2012.

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International Languages Week has been run in schools around New Zealand for several years now. The idea is that each school or region takes advantage of the opportunity to showcase and promote both language and culture in their school and or community.

Visit the Wiki space of the Association of Language Teachers website for more information.

Ngā Toi i Roto I te Marautanga o Aotearoa presents a course for Māori Medium teachers in te reo Māori and te reo matatini.

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The course is available to level 1 and 2 Māori Medium teachers, all within the discipline of Ngā Toi. The course is intended to build a network of Māori teachers able and willing to share resources to contribute to students’ engagement and practice.

The course will run from 4 to 7 July in Wellington. For more information visit the Teachers’ Refresher Course Committee website.