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Labour ministers divided over possible Minister for Te Reo Māori

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare says he would support the creation of a Minister for Te Reo Māori . 

Nanaia Mahuta and Peeni Henare. Source: 1 NEWS

"If Te Reo Māori is a primary focus, then maybe it’s time," Mr Henare said today. 

An independent report in 2011 recommended a minister for the Māori language be established.

Mr Henare said it had not been discussed in Labour's caucus, but there were three ministers currently who could speak Te Reo Māori "to a competent or fluent level and I think maybe it’s time we translate that into outcomes for our people". 

"It sets an example for the country that the indigenous language is at the top echelons of power, it’s a good tauira, a good example for our own people to take up Te Reo Māori and know it has value.

"When I was at school… we were told Te Reo Māori will not get you anywhere, now it’s probably one of my biggest assets."

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta did not agree. 

Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Māori Development has expressed her condolences at the passing of Piri Sciascia Source: Te Karere

“If we look at the Māori language strategy and the aspiration to have one million New Zealanders being able to converse in basic Te Reo Māori," she said. 

"When I think about the number of Māori Ministers and the number of Māori in our Māori caucus who can speak Māori, I think it’s too isolating to have one Minister responsible for te reo, when the strategy sits across many Ministers and many roles and functions of a number of our colleagues, and I think we can do it well together."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she thought the Government had demonstrated "a really strong commitment progressing our goal of a million New Zealanders can engage in a conversation in Te Reo Māori by 2024".

"We’ll only achieve that goal if we have the teachers and support workers in place to achieve it. We need to lay the foundation."

Opposition leader Judith Collins said National was committed to Re Reo Māori. 

"We’ve always had a commitment to children in particular being able to learn te reo and pretty much that’s what we’re doing."

For more on this story watch 1 NEWS at 6.