Petition to make English official language of NZ

Howick local Gayleen Mackereth has started a petition to make English one of the three official languages of New Zealand.

Most people are probably under the impression that English is an official language of this county, however it was removed in 1987, when Te Reo Maori became an official language.

English has remained a de-facto official language since then. It is accepted as such within legalese.

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell was involved in a push to recognise English alongside Te Reo Maori and Sign Language. The bill is still under consideration.

Gayleen argues: “While 96 per cent of the people speak or understand English, and the school system and all major communication in this country is in English, it seems strange that English is not an official language together with Sign Language and Maori”

“English is a key to our economic survival and for many people, the thing which connects us to other people throughout the world and attracts students and tourists to our shores.”

“If English is not an official language, how can we ask new immigrants to reach a certain level in a language which is not an official language? How can we accept a court judgment written in English if the official language is Maori/Sign Language?”

“There has been grave concern for the loss of Maori language and over the last 30 years many steps have been taken to rejuvenate the language There is a huge push for school students and others to learn Maori nowadays.

This is echoed in official publications and on television. TVOne, in particular, begins and ends programmes in Maori and incorporates extra words in Maori during the broadcast. Many official publications now use Maori words as headings and use Maori in the main text un-translated,”  Gayleen says.

“Regularly, these words are not italicised to distinguish them as belonging to another language, but left in standard text, unlike Japanese which uses a different alphabet for loanwords, or earlier publications by British authors where French words were often incorporated but in italics to distinguish them from English in the text.

“This makes it particularly difficult for us trying to teach new immigrants what is and what is not in English and doubles the difficulty in resettling.”

What do you think? Email jim@times.co.nz