Te Rangatiratanga o te Reo: sovereignty in Indigenous languages in early childhood education in Aotearoa
journal contributionposted on 28.09.2021, 00:51 by Mary SkerrettMary Skerrett, Jenny RitchieJenny Ritchie
Te reo Māori, the Māori language is a taonga (something highly valued by Māori) that should have been protected under Article Two of the 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the treaty that gave Britain the right to settlement of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Article Two guaranteed Māori absolute chieftainship over their lands, homes, resources, and everything of value. Thirty-five years ago the Waitangi Tribunal found te reo Māori is indeed a ‘taonga’ which the Crown is obliged to protect. In this paper we consider how the dominance of English language practices in education in Aotearoa and unequal access to Māori of power and resources has caused te reo to decline. We outline how the Waitangi Tribunal has identified treaty breaches, before considering recent education policy with a specific focus on the early childhood sector. We conclude by identifying the teacher education sector as a prime site for reinvigorating te reo Māori as both the repository of Māori knowledge and a national taonga. We highlight that whilst recent policy changes signal a governmental commitment to transforming the racist and linguicist legacy of educational policies, ongoing resourcing of support to the teaching profession will be required to ensure the success of these aspirations.