Policy and procedure ideas for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

It’s time to celebrate the first language of Aotearoa with Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. 

Kia kaha te reo Māori!

Te reo Māori is a taonga protected by the Treaty of Waitangi. The Crown and its funded entities like education, social and health agencies, has a duty to actively protect it.

What does active protection mean?

The duty of active protection has been considered by the Waitangi Tribunal in a number of its decisions, including in its report on the Kōhanga Reo claim case and its more recent report on Oranga Tamariki – He Pāharakeke, he Rito Whakakīkinga Whāruarua.

Put simply, it means that if, as a country, we’ve caused harm (eg by suppression of Te Reo Māori; policies and procedures embedding institutional racism), we have to take active steps to address the impacts along with steps to prevent future harm.

Steps can, of course, be taken in different ways depending on what your agency does and who it serves. But it’s an important starter that you have a statement of commitment with some key steps you’re going to take laid out in your organisational policies and procedures.

A plan can help

Another way to support your progress and to counteract Anglo-centrism (ie using only English) is to specifically plan with staff about how the agency will fulfill its duty to actively protect and nurture the language.

We’ve suggested this previously as a way to keep a focus on and progress with building capability in te reo Māori.

The plan should be supported by your policies and procedures. It should be included in your regular planning and reviews as an organisation.

Accreditation and compliance for health, disability, education and social service purposes require cultural competence, cultural safety and performance of obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Learning and developing competency in te reo me ngā tīkanga Māori to the extent we can should therefore be a priority.

Some food for thought

Here’s some questions to consider when developing and/or revising your plan or strategy to progress Te Reo Māori in your workplace:

  • What’s the level of competence and comfort with the use of te reo me  ngā tīkanga Māori across board and staff?
  • What’s the language of the area/rohe?
  • How is usage encouraged and supported within the organisation and promoted more widely?
  • How do Māori know they are welcome and have a right to speak te reo when engaging with the agency?
  • Is there opportunity for you to check for and respond to people’s cultural preferences (in terms of practice and language)?
  • How is language and culture expertise valued in recruitment and performance reviews?
  • What are some kupu Māori that can be used as part of your agency’s everyday language/terminology?

Some strategies

If you’re short on ideas for what to include in your plan, you could consider including some or all of the following:

  • policy and procedures supporting kaimahi/staff and volunteers to pronounce kupu Māori correctly, particularly the names of people and places and frequently used phrases
  •  incentives for staff to commence or further their learning of te reo
  • stronger provision in policies and procedures for cultural supervision and cultural advice
  • making the reo more visible in the organisation (eg signage, labels)
  • remuneration for competency in te reo me ngā tīkanga Māori and recognition of expertise as a core job competency
  • supporting national promotions of te reo (eg Te Wiki o te reo Māori).

So … kōrero Māori and enjoy 

Enjoy Te wiki o Te Reo Māori and let’s commit together to building our ability to nurture and protect the beautiful language of Aotearoa!