A Dunedin man who slammed anyone who supports te reo Māori as a “boring bigot” in a recent opinion piece in the Otago Daily Times needs to remember exactly where he lives, says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
“Anyone who complains about te reo Māori being used and celebrated in this country need to get one thing straight: this is New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand – so get used to it,” said Dame Susan.
“This year marks 30 years since te reo was made an official language of its own country. We’ve come a long way since then but it’s clear that some of us have longer to go than others.”
Dame Susan noted that the angry writer of the ODT piece was originally born in Ireland, as were her ancestors.
“Irish people have fought for years for the right to speak their own indigenous language. Like New Zealand, English predominates but Irish Gaelic is recognised as the national and first official language of the republic. Irish Gaelic is a compulsory subject in all public schools. Anyone wanting to study at an Irish university must be proficient in Irish Gaelic,” said Dame Susan.
“Language can divide us – as this opinion writer would like it to do. But more and more, language is bringing people together.”
“Tonight I’ll be at the Ngā Tohu Reo Māori Awards, sharing a table with Kiwis from Māori, Pakeha, Irish and Jewish backgrounds. We’re not boring bigots. We’re New Zealanders.”