Compulsory classes will help right the wrong after Te Reo Māori 'beaten' out of school children a generation ago - Sir Pita Sharples

It was only a generation ago that Sir Pita Sharples' mother and other Māori students had their language "beaten out of them", the academic reminded TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

The academic says "it’s time New Zealand woke up" and realised te reo is one of our treasures. Source: Breakfast

Sir Pita recalled the tears of joy he shed years later, when his mum finally "broke the shackles of colonisation" and started speaking te reo again.

"It's still a long way to go, but (attitudes) are changing," the former Māori Party co-leader said as New Zealand kicks off Māori Language Week.

"My mother was...subject to the laws of the day - a hiding, a strapping, if you spoke Māori in the school ground," he said. "You've got to understand what that means: A whole race was hit corporally for speaking the only thing they knew.

"My mother said when they argued they had to jump out on the road, out of the school grounds, and have a good old fight or a row and then come back into the school. It was a real thing. It wasn't just a one-off shot. It was beaten out of them."

That treatment of the language is directly related to some of our modern day problems, including the high proportion of Māori who are homeless and in low-paying jobs, Sir Pita suggested.

"They've been supressed," he said. "It effects the way to you look at life and you feel secondary."

As for its impact on his own life, Sir Pita said he never got a chance to learn te reo from his own mum.

"I grew up in a little village - the Māori elders spoke Māori to themselves and English to us, and we weren't taught any Māori at all, so we grew up Māori-less," he recalled. "Then I went to a boarding school where they spoke Māori...and so I started to learn. It was my goal.

"And still my mother would speak to me only in English. Then one day in my last year, I was head boy, I got this letter. I recognised my mum's writing on the envelope - 'Oh good, money!' - so I opened the envelope and it was all in Māori. And I cried. She had broken the shackles of colonisation. She just finally admitted that she's been processed. And from that day on she spoke Māori all the time to us kids."

Māori Language Week serves as an important counter balance to the many New Zealanders who still have the mindset of a century ago, he said. The next step to righting a historical wrong, he argued, will be to have the language compulsory in schools.

"That (mindset of beating the Māori out of students) has carried right through even now," he said. "People feel really good about standing up and saying, 'Maori's a waste of time', stuff like this. They feel that confident about it. So we're not even past that stage.

"A lot of people don't know this story properly and they should learn. And then they'll understand their neighbour."



Members of the public rush to save stranded whale at Auckland beach that turned out to be a fake

Members of the public flocked to Browns Bay in Auckland after spotting what looked like a stranded whale close to the shoreline, many people ran down to the waters edge to see if they could help.

However, it wasn't a real whale, but rather a life-like replica used by rescue charity Project Jonah.

"We thought we saw a whale in the water, so we stopped, got out and had a wee look," one onlooker said.

This weekend Project Jonah is holding two training sessions for volunteers.

"We're teaching people the basic skills needed to help keep stranded whales and dolphins alive," Project Jonah general manager Daren Grover said.

The trainers explained how to handle the mammals when they are in distress.

Two mammal replicas were used; a training dolphin, which when filled with water weighs 150 kilograms and a training whale which takes 2000 litres of water and can weigh up to two tonnes.

New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world, with more than 300 dolphins and whales coming ashore each year.

However, sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Source: 1 NEWS

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Community demands answers over what caused kids to become seriously ill at a Carterton school

The Wairarapa community are demanding answers to what caused children at Carterton South End's school to become sick, after a strange smell wafted over the school yesterday afternoon.

Police ruled out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school.

Parents at the school are angered and want answers as to what caused the illnesses.

Cody Pratt's daughter was one of the students who vomited after smelling a sulphur like substance.

"It was scary having my daughter in the school premises and being told I couldn't go in to get her was pretty daunting," said Mr Pratt.

"I definitely want to know what has gone on.

"Children came in after lunch and reported feeling unwell after the substance, or smelling a smell," he said.

Ten students were taken to hospital but returned to their homes last night.

The school was cleared to be re-opened for classes on Monday.

Police say they have conducted a thorough examination of the school and still haven't found a point of cause.

Police inquiries will now focus on the surrounding neighbourhood.

Police now believe they can rule out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school. Source: 1 NEWS

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Council trees in central Otago being chopped down by people helping themselves to the timber

The Central Otago council has called on police help to crack down on people illegally cutting down council trees.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan argues that the stumps in central Otago are evidence of illegal felling of trees by members of the public.

"Randomly coming up and knocking trees down without taking any safety measures in a place that the public walk their dogs, ride their bikes and so forth is actually really dangerous, as well as theft," said Mr Cadogan.

Culprits have been forced to hand the wood over to local charities when they have been caught.

But the council now says they will be handing the thieves over to police.

"We can't just keep taking that attitude so from now on it's going to be prosecutions, no questions asked, no warnings."

Families in need of timber in Alexandra are urged to use other sources, like the Salvation Army who hand out free and low cost wood, with the Rotary Club helping to split donated costs.

Alexandra Rotary president Charles French says this option is much safer.

"It is available here and there isn't really any need for people to go their own way with this," said Mr French.

The council says their concern is the safety of the public and the thieves.

It's becoming such a problem across the region the council's now cracking down and involving police. Source: 1 NEWS


Man dies after falling into Mt Ruapehu's Crater Lake

A man has died after falling into Crater Lake at Mount Ruapehu.

Emergency services were flown to the scene via helicopter at around 1.50pm.

The man was recovered from the lake by members of the group he was with before emergency services arrived.

An eyewitness told 1 NEWS that the man and a friend were having lunch, when their personal items began to slide down the hill.

They both slid down the ice to retrieve their items and one of them managed to stop, but the other couldn't and fell into the crater.

The death will be referred to the Coroner.

The man was pulled from the water by members of the public. Source: Josh Davis