1876: Maoris Demand Extermination of Te Reo
January 18, 2019
Te Reo, the Maori language, was indeed quashed at one time in our history. I hope you haven’t had enough of me holding the State responsible for life’s ills yet because the history of this will have our usual theme..
“In recent years the fact that Maori children were punished for speaking Maori in the government schools and playgrounds is recalled with bitterness, as evidence of enforced assimilation; but in the 1870s Maori parents themselves petitioned that this should be so.”- Alan Ward (1973)
Ward is correct, citing an 1876 petition from Wi Te Hakiro and 336 Others to The House of Representatives*. It was not the only petition of this sort.
“There should not be a word of Maori allowed to be spoken in the school, and the master, his wife and children should be persons altogether ignorant of the Maori language”.- ibid
Indeed, MP Karaitiana Takamoana (Eastern Maori) in c.1871 tried to pass legislation to force all Maori school children to learn only in English. According to Parliament’s website, he did not himself speak English. However, he did dress himself up and otherwise indulge in expensive Western ‘urban sophisticaiton’. For example, this chief went into debt building his own, large, Maori Club House in Napier and ended up having to sell off his people’s land to cover the damage.
The use of compulsion as a means is never justified by the ends. Forced public schooling once again was used as the instrument of damaging the young, taking away their volition in a one-size-fits-all uni-lingual policy. In a new twist of today, the Government in Coalition (The Green Party) has a policy promise to force all New Zealand children to learn Maori even if they don’t want to.
Do we ever learn?
Image ref. Takamoana standing with his interpreter; Parliamentary Collection
Image ref. Green Party leader James Shaw standing with his interpreter; politik.co.nz
* Ref. APPENDIX TO THE JOURNALS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1 JANUARY 1876; Papers Past
Ref. ‘Greens lay out plan for compulsory te reo Māori in all schools’; Stuff, 2017
note: What could be a more detestable regard for Maoris by Maoris than to use the law to compel its inheritors to attend State schools where the use of your people’s language would illicit punishment? Physical beatings. How traumatising and alienating to be unable to verbalise according to one’s own conscience. See also