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Heather du Plessis-Allan: Why is MFAT ramping down its use of Te Reo Māori?

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Nov 2023, 5:17pm

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Why is MFAT ramping down its use of Te Reo Māori?

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Nov 2023, 5:17pm

Probably the most interesting development of the day kind of related to the coalition negations is the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been busted deliberately ramping down its use of Te Reo Māori to make the incoming Government happy.

At MFAT, if staff want to write a formal message to a Minister, they use a template. Until about a couple of weeks ago, that template told staff to use Māori words instead of some English words.

For example; summary, report, recommendations and conclusions.

But since around the time the special votes started coming in- and it was obvious Winston Peters would be a possibility for Foreign Minister, MFAT's chief executive has made the call to dump some of those Māori words and go back to the English words in the template.

It's pretty obvious that MFAT is doing this because because of the incoming Government.

MFAT brought the Māori words in apparently because the previous Labour Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, had told MFAT to use more Te Reo. But not all the parties in the incoming Government love the political use of Te Reo.

Personally, I've got no objection to the use of Te Reo. I learnt for years, I use it myself probably every day in some way.

But no one likes a greaser. And MFAT’s been busted greasing.

Happy to use Te Reo to make Nanaia happy, happy to dump it the minute it looks like Winston Peters, who loves the Queen’s English is back in the chair.

And this is probably a perfect example of the exactly the reason so many people get frustrated by the use of Te Reo Māori in the media and in Government. Because it feels forced and hollow.

It feels like the guy on the news and the weather person and the public servant signing off with ngā mihi don’t actually really care about Te Reo, or use it that much themselves.

It feels like they're just saying it to signal that they're virtuous and acceptable- and MFAT has just been busted doing exactly that.

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