Te reo and the dubious pathway to a fatal faltering

The bloody bureaucrats in Defence have found a neat way of doubling their workload to absolutely no productive purpose, except – perhaps – that doubling the size of media statements will increase the demand for paper.

That will be great for the forestry bits of the Maori economy.

The doubling of the workload – if this idea has caught on elsewhere in the public service – will also call for more staff, because it is being effected by publishing media statements first in te reo (so the vast bulk of us don’t understand a bloody word of it), and then in English.

It’s a spectacular squandering of public money for the highly dubious purpose of marking Maori Language Week.

The example landing on Alf’s in-tray comes from the Defence Department and is headed Kei te tautoko Te Ope Kaatua i te wiki o te reo Māori (which may or may not mean “what follows is bollocks”).

Fair to say, according to the English translation it means “Defence force embraces Maori Language Week” and the statement says:

The New Zealand Defence Force is encouraging all personnel to embrace Māori Language Week and use Māori greetings and place names.

The theme for this year’s Māori Language Week, which runs from runs from 27 July to 2 August, is – Te Reo i te Hapori, Māori Language in the Community.

NZDF culture is interwoven with Māoritanga. “Each of the three Services; Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa (Navy), Ngati Tumatauenga (Army) and Te Tauārangi o Aotearoa (Air Force), has developed our own New Zealand military cultural practices and ceremonies guided by Tikanga Māori on the one hand and British and European custom on the other,” said Navy Māori Cultural Advisor Warrant Officer Mark Pirikahu.

“In this way Te Ope Kaatua o Aotearoa (NZDF) is unique, is one family of people bound together by the ethic of service to our country, military professionalism, common values, mutual respect, mutual trust, mateship, and our culture.”

Alf learns from this – most fundamentally – that saying things in Maori is gloriously long-winded.

He wouldn’t have served in the Navy. Nope. He would have served in Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa.

Betcha the Village People would choke on that, if they tried singing “In the Navy” in Maori.

The statement goes on to note the NZDF has 12, 378 full time Service men and women and civilian staff.

Of this total about 15.8% are identified as Māori.

The more critical statistic is how many of those Maori speak Maori.

Not enough, apparently, because – .

“The NZDF has a Te Reo Māori language policy which supports several servicemen and/or servicewoman attending Te Reo Māori training through various institutions annually,” W/O Pirikahu said.

Do these servicemen/women pay for their own language lessons?

Nope. Taxpayers cough up the readies for this exercise in social engineering.

Here’s hoping the Defence bosses know what they are doing.

Alf imagines the situation where an officer barks an order in Maori, like, “let’s get the fuck out of here real fast.”

And some poor bugger cops it because his (or her) Maori isn’t quite as good as his (or her) English.

So they falter – fatally – while trying to work out what they are supposed to do.

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