The Minister of Māori Development has declared he will only converse in te reo Māori this year. Te Ururoa Flavell told Te Kāea today, it's a huge challenge his wife Erana pushed him to do for their family, but it means his Parliamentary staff will have to step up to the plate as well.
The Maori Development Minister is back at school this week, preparing for his ultimate challenge.
My wife came up with the idea that we challenge one another to speak only Maori at home and we have to stick to it.
The Minister says he and his wife Erana are committed to speaking only in their mother tongue for the entire year.
Erana Hond-Flavell says, "We are trying to find a way to increase the level of Maori language amongst our in-laws for the benefit of our grandchildren, and we're also striving to speak our language outside of our home.”
Te Ururoa Flavell says, “It's fine for women to challenge men because it's the women who are involved with kohanga reo and total immersion schools encouraging men to speak Maori. So, my role is to support my wife.”
In addition to Māori language retreats the Minister has asked those fluent in the language to help by sending him 25 words each week for him to learn.
My basket of knowledge is limited. What I hope to gain from these wananga, from those who will volunteer their time is to expand my knowledge base and learn words that are used elsewhere. That's what's important to me, to us,” says Flavell.
While the challenge is a personal one the Minister says it will impact on his staff.
When asked how he will cope speaking only te reo Māori in an election year and what impact that will have on non-reo speaking voters Minister Flavell says “it’s unrealistic to expect me to only speak Māori. It’s part of my political duty, so where I have to communicate in English I will. But if I can push te reo Māori as I have on many occasions before in Parliament, I will.”