'If the language was a patient it would be on life support' - Historian believes Te Reo Maori in dire straits

A leading New Zealand historian claims Te Reo Maori is in dire straits and says many of the current approaches used to revitalise is are backfiring.

Professor Paul Moon says making te reo compulsory isn't the answer to regenerating the language. Source: 1 NEWS

Professor Paul Moon makes the claims in his new book Killing Te Reo Maori: An Indigenous Language Facing Extinction.

Speaking to TVNZ1's Te Karere Mr Moon says: "If the language was a patient it would be on life support".

"Every year, we see a new campaign, and new method, or a new idea which its backers promise will revitalise Te Reo Maori," Mr Moon says in a statement.

"Some show a lack of rudimentary understanding of how languages survive or die, most are ill-conceived, and all ultimately fail."

Professor Moon has drawn on numerous studies and reports to argue that many of the current approaches to saving the Maori language are backfiring and the insistence on the correct pronunciation of Maori is damaging the language. 

"Te Reo Maori is reaching the point where it may disappear as a living language in just one generation," he says.

"A completely new approach is needed if there is to be any chance of saving it. If we continue on the current course, however, Te Reo Maori will cease as a living language."

Mr Moon suggests putting "resources into things like kohanga (reo) in particular and kura kaupapa – so there's a progression that works through".