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The tekoteko on the wharenui of Pariroa Pā .
The tekoteko on the wharenui of Pariroa Pā. (Photo: Airana Ngarewa; additional design by Tina Tiller)

PoliticsOctober 6, 2023

Election 2023: Te reo Māori me ōna tikanga policies in two minutes

The tekoteko on the wharenui of Pariroa Pā .
The tekoteko on the wharenui of Pariroa Pā. (Photo: Airana Ngarewa; additional design by Tina Tiller)

There is a lot of agreement between Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori – and not much policy from anybody else.

See more from our policy in two minutes series here.

From the resounding success of Te Matatini in February to National’s bilingual street signs debacle, 2023 has had plenty of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga headlines. Those headlines are particularly important in an election year since some translate into political parties’ policies. Below is an abbreviated version of some of those policies, but for a more comprehensive explanation, visit our election tool

Te reo Māori

The age-old argument of whether English or te reo Māori names should be used – for places and institutions – has reared its head again this election. Whereas NZ First would like to see ingoa Māori removed from government departments, Te Pāti Māori wants to reinstitute original Māori place namesincluding renaming the country Aotearoa. Labour’s position somewhat aligns with that of Te Pāti Māori, as they’re keen to look into fast-tracking the recognition of ingoa Māori for landmarks and streets. 

Together, Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori are campaigning on spreading te reo Māori across the country. All three see education as a primary conduit for that, focusing on enabling tamariki to learn the language. Labour wants to promote our indigenous reo in early childhood education through professional development, teaching resources, and supporting immersion programmes. They’re also keen for better pastoral care at wānanga to support tauira. Te Pāti Māori would like to see more indigenous reo in mainstream classrooms, make learning the language compulsory until year 10 and will reward schools and kaiako for te reo Māori competency. 

Te reo Māori has come in and out of the lives of many Māori like the edd and flow of the tides. (Image: Getty; additional design: Archi Banal)

Although the Green Party and Labour would like to expand resources for flax-roots-level initiatives – like classes at marae – Te Pāti Māori takes that idea a step further. They’d like to establish a new national-level institution to fund, audit and protect te reo Māori. An independent Māori Standards Authority would audit government departments’ cultural and language competency, including monitoring their te reo Māori plans. Under said policy, taxpayer-funded broadcasters would be expected to have basic fluency in our indigenous language. 

Te Pāti Māori also wants to expand funding for existing initiatives, like doubling the budget of Te Mātāwai, the body that implements the government’s te reo Māori strategies. 

Cultural initiatives

There is once again common ground between Labour and the Green plus Māori parties regarding Te Matatini. They all want to provide the kapa haka nationals with more funding and resources. Te Pāti Māori gives specific numbers, saying they’re keen for a $19m cash injection into Te Matatini. 

Much as it does with te reo Māori, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s party wants to create new institutions to support our indigenous culture – they’d like to establish entities to oversee Māori arts and sports. An independent statutory body overseeing toi would protect indigenous arts and culture by sitting on the Lottery Grants Board. It would receive equal funding to Creative NZ, which Te Pāti Māori estimates would cost $57m. An indigenous sporting agency would oversee a $100m coffer to invest in Māori sports or codes with high tāngata whenua participation.  

Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau a Apanui
The overall winners of Te Matatini 2023, Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau a Apanui (Photo: Supplied)


Matariki has been a public holiday for two years now, and Labour – which instigated the holiday – will provide funding to expand celebrations for this special occasion. Whereas Labour wants to see the Matariki public holiday grow, the Act Party is considering repealing it. Act is campaigning on removing Matariki or another statutory holiday because they think introducing a national day off for the Māori New Year was costly for businesses.


Data: Labour is keen to protect mātauranga Māori and indigenous intellectual property rights when the government negotiates trade agreements

Media: Labour wants to support Māori media to create more innovative content about indigenous language and culture in both te reo Māori and English.

This is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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