On Friday 5 December 2014 submissions for the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill close. For the next 6 days we will focus on the Bill and hopefully assist you to understand with clarity the details and how it may impact on you, your whānau, Marae, hapu and iwi. Our goal is for you to submit a submission.
Like most legislation the Te Reo Bill has many important strategic and operational aspects to consider. Lets take a look at the different aspects of the Bill. We note the following is not a position piece but instead a mechanical look at the Bill.
The aim of this Bill is to repeal the Māori Language Act 1987 and amend the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003 and other Acts to:
- affirm that the Māori language is a taonga of iwi and Māori, and that iwi and Māori are the kaitiaki of the Māori language;
- establish an independent entity, Te Mātāwai, to provide leadership on behalf of iwi and Māori regarding the health of the Māori language;
- provide for iwi and Māori language stakeholder organisations to appoint 10 members to Te Mātāwai, and for the Crown to appoint 2 members;
- transfer responsibility and oversight for Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (formerly [(the Māori Language Commission)] and Te Māngai Pāho (the Māori broadcasting funding agency) from the Crown to Te Mātāwai; and
- disestablish Te Pūtahi Paoho and transfer its functions to Te Mātāwai. 
“The Government’s Māori Language Strategy (MLS) was initially developed in 1998 to ensure that Māori language programmes and services were being directed towards agreed outcomes and target populations. It identified the Māori language programmes and services that were being delivered at that time, and established mechanisms to support co-ordination across budget votes and agencies. The MLS was revised and further updated in 2003.
“Recent reviews have highlighted various aspects of the MLS that would benefit from further development. An independent 7-person panel selected by the Minister of Māori Affairs undertook a review of the MLS and Māori language sector and presented its findings in its report Te Reo Mauriora in April 2011. Recommendations in the report included:
- that a board known as Te Mātāwai be established to provide direction on all matters pertaining to the Māori language;
- that re-establishing te reo in homes is the key requirement for Māori language revitalisation; and
- that the future implementation of the revitalisation strategy be led by iwi.
“The Waitangi Tribunal considered Māori language issues as part of its WAI 262 (Flora, Fauna, Cultural and Intellectual Property claim) inquiry. It released a provisional chapter in its report Ko Aotearoa Tēnei that focused on Crown–Māori relationships in terms of the Māori language, and included an overall assessment of the 2003 MLS in this light. Key themes in the recommendations of this provisional chapter included:
- the development of stronger Crown–Māori relationships (for example, the Waitangi Tribunal recommended that the Māori Language Commission be reconstituted as a Crown–Māori partnership); and
- an enhanced role for iwi in language planning and implementation. 
The Bill provides that it replaces the Māori Language Act 1987, amends the Broadcasting Act 1989 and the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003 in order to affirm the status of the Māori language as a taonga of iwi and Māori and an official language of New Zealand by:
- establishing Te Mātāwai as an independent statutory entity to provide leadership on behalf of iwi and Māori in their role as kaitiaki of the Māori language; and
- in support of that role, providing for the roles of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Māngai Pāho under the leadership of Te Mātāwai.
The term “Kaitiaki” means guardian (Part 1, Clause 3; Clause 8, definition of “Kaitiaki”).
Status and official use of the Māori language
The Bill declares that the Māori language is a taonga of iwi and Māori and iwi and Māori are the kaitiaki of the Māori language. The Bill also declares that the Māori language is, and continues to be, an official language of New Zealand and provides for the right to speak Māori in legal proceedings (the latter provision is carried over from the Māori Language Act 1987). The Bill also provides for the principles that are to apply to government departments when exercising functions and powers such as consultation obligations (to be carried out by the chief executive of the government department “to the extent that is reasonably practicable, with the persons or organisations that the chief executive considers to be representative of iwi and Māori,” the use of the Māori language in promoting government services to the public of New Zealand and disseminating information, and making government services and information accessible to iwi and Māori. These principles “do not confer on any person any legal right that is enforceable in a court of law.”
The terms “ iwi and Māori” means either or both of the following: 1 or more of the iwi listed in Schedule 3 of the Bill or Māori people generally (Part 1, Clauses 4, 5, 6 and 7; Clause 8, definition of “iwi and Māori”; Schedule 3 of the Bill).
The Bill establishes Te Mātāwai as an independent statutory entity, with the status of a body corporate with perpetual succession. For the purpose of performing its functions under the Bill, Te Mātāwai has (subject to the provisions of this Bill, any other enactment and the general law) full capacity to undertake any business or activity, do any act, or enter any transaction and for this purpose has full, rights, powers and privileges. It is declared to be a public authority for the purpose of the Inland Revenue Acts, unless those Acts provide otherwise (Part 2, Clause 11).
Purpose of Te Mātāwai
The Bill provides that the purpose of Te Mātāwai is to act on behalf of iwi and Māori to provide leadership regarding the health and well-being of the Māori language and to give practical effect to that leadership through its oversight and direction of Te Taura Whiri, Te Māngai Pāho, and, in conjunction with the Minister of Māori Affairs and Minister of Finance, the Māori Television Service. Te Mātāwai also has the purpose of giving effect, through its relationship with the Minister of Māori Affairs, to the relationship of the Crown and Māori contemplated by the Treaty of Waitangi in respect of the Māori language (Part 2, Clause 12).
Functions of Te Mātāwai
The Bill sets out the functions of Te Mātāwai which include:
- to prepare and publish its statement of strategic direction and operating intentions as required by Clause 17 of the Bill after consulting Minister of Māori Affairs “and, at its sole discretion, groups that it considers appropriate”;
- to provide expert advice to the Minister on issues relating to the Māori language, including advice on reviewing and developing the Māori Language Strategy on a 3-yearly cycle;
- to make independent comment, as it sees fit, on Māori language policy;
- to appoint, reappoint, and remove any or all of the members of Te Taura Whiri or Te Māngai Pāho;
- to give directions to Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho on their obligations under the Bill;
- “to affirm the services to be delivered by Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho (but not in relation to specific funding decisions)”;
- to negotiate and confirm contracts with the Crown for the purchase and delivery, from Te Māngai Pāho and Te Taura Whiri, of Māori language programmes and services that align with the Māori Language Strategy;
- to appoint, reappoint, and remove 4 of the 7 directors of the board of the Māori Television Service;
- jointly with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Māori Affairs to exercise leadership and oversight of the Māori Television Service under the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003 and to confirm the statement of intent of the Māori Television Service;
- to manage the spectrum management rights under the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003;
- all other functions undertaken by Te Pūtahi Paoho under the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003;
- other functions conferred on Te Mātāwai by this Bill or any other enactment (Part 2, Clause 13(1)).
Limits on broadcasting role
The Bill provides that Te Mātāwai must not direct Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Television Service, or any other broadcaster or programme maker in respect of: a specific programme; or the gathering or presentation of news; or the preparation or presentation of current affairs programmes; or any specific funding decisions or contractual arrangements (Part 2, Clause 13(2)).
Membership of Te Mātāwai
The Bill provides that Te Mātāwai has twelve members to be appointed as follows:
- seven members, one by each of the seven clusters of iwi listed in Schedule 3 (the seven clusters are: Te Tai Tokerau, Tainui, Mataatua, Te Arawa, Te Tai Rāwhiti, Te Tai Hau-ā-uru and Te Waipounamu – each of these clusters is comprised of named iwi. Te Tai Tokerau includes Tāmaki iwi. Tainui includes Hauraki iwi. Te Waipounamu includes the many iwi clustered in the north of the South Island as well as Kai Tahu, Moriori and Ngāti Mutunga (Wharekauri/Chatham Islands) – each iwi participates in the process of nomination through the appointment of one member to be a member of a selection group for each cluster of iwi);
- three members by Te Reo Tukutuku (the Māori language stakeholder group consisting of the following: Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust; Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa; Te Ringa Raupā o ngā Kura-a-Iwi; Te Tauihu o Ngā Wānanga; Te Ātaarangi; Te Whakaruruhau o ngā Reo Irirangi Māori o Aotearoa; Ngā Aho Whakaari; Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo Māori; Māori Women’s Welfare League Incorporated; and Te Huarahi Tika Trust);
- 2 members, by the Minister on behalf of the Crown.
If, for any reason, an appointment cannot be made by the iwi clusters or Te Reo Tukutuku “within a reasonable period of time, the Minister may make the appointment.”
Te Mātāwai must appoint a chief executive who must not be a member of Te Mātāwai (Part 2, Clauses 14-16 ; Part 1, Clause 8, definition of “Te Reo Tukutuku”; Schedule 4 (“Provisions relating to entities, chairpersons, and members or directors”), clause 2).
Statement of strategic direction and annual report
The Bill makes detailed provision for the preparation of the statement of strategic direction, annual report, various statements and auditing matters (to be carried out by the Auditor-General) (Part 2, Clauses 17-21).
Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho
The Bill continues Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission) and Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi (the Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency) as new entities with new names, Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho removing their status as Crown entities, and providing that they are responsible to Te Mātāwai. The assets and liabilities of the former Crown entities continue to be those of the entities created by this Bill. The Bill disestablishes Te Pūtahi Paoho, the entity established by Section 12 of the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act 2003. The functions and duties of that entity, and its assets and liabilities, become those of Te Mātāwai and provision for the taxation status of those assets and liabilities (Part 3, Clauses 22-24).
Functions and powers
The Bill provides for the functions and powers of Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho which are broadly continued “from the Māori Language Act 1987 and Part 4A of the Broadcasting Act 1989. Te Taura Whiri continues to have its policy and operational roles in relation to the Māori language, including responsibility for certifying translators and interpreters. Te Māngai Pāho continues to have the role of making funding available for broadcasting and related activities”  (Part 3, Clauses 25-26; Schedules 4-6).
The Bill provides that Te Mātāwai must appoint: 5 persons to be members of Te Māngai Pāho, including 1 person to be the chairperson of that entity and 1 person to be the deputy chairperson; and 5 persons to be members of Te Taura Whiri, including 1 person to be the chairperson of that entity and 1 person to be the deputy chairperson; and 4 persons to be directors of the board of the Māori Television Service. Each organisation must appoint a chief executive who must not be a member of Te Mātāwai (Part 3, Clauses 27 and 28).
The Bill makes provison for the accountability of Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho to Te Mātāwai, particularly obligations relating to statements of intent and quarterly and annual reports. The Minister may appoint up to two Crown advisers in specified circumstances. The Minister also has the power to appoint a statutory manager in such circumstances (Part 3, Clauses 29-32).
Review and application of certain Acts
The Bill requires the Minister of Māori Affairs to review the Act after the end of the first 3-year period after the commencement of the Act. The Ombudsmen Act 1975, the Official Information Act 1982 and the Public Audit Act 2001 are applied to Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho (Part 4, Clauses 33-35).
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