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Incoming-Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters blasts te reo Māori names for government departments

Editor Written by Editor · 1 min read >


Incoming-Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has slammed te reo Māori names for government departments, saying “communications is about comprehension and understanding”.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis Allan this afternoon, following the signing of a coalition agreement with National and Act signalling the formation of a new government, Peters called te reo Māori names for departments tokenism.

The agreement struck between New Zealand First and National included requiring public service departments “have their primary name in English, except for those specifically related to Māori”.

It also included a requirement that “public service departments and Crown Entities … communicate primarily in English”.

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“The majority of New Zealanders want Waka Kotahi [NZTA], this so-called boat on the road, to actually fix the potholes up. If you ask the Māori in Hokianga and the East Coast, what do they want, they want the road fixed and not this tokenism.

“How can you have a waka on the road?” Peters said of Waka Kotahi going back to using an English name.

He wouldn’t be drawn on his naming convention preference, instead reiterating he wanted the transport agency to “focus on getting the job done and fixing the roads up and not having potholes that are around ruining cars and smashing them up and causing great danger”.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (left), National's Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour. Photo / Mark Mitchell
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (left), National’s Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour. Photo / Mark Mitchell

When pressed again on what his preference would be for naming conventions, Peters asked du Plessis Allan, “Can we agree that – and you’re in the media – that all communications is about comprehension and understanding?

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“If 95 per cent don’t understand or comprehend what they’re reading, then what was the purpose of that change?”

On Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, Peters said, “It’s back to Health New Zealand”.

“If it’s not giving Māori operations and speed in times in hospitals, what was its purpose? How’s that to have a bunch of bureaucrats in Wellington with woke purposes trampling over the essential needs and common-sense solutions for ordinary people in this country regardless of their race or gender?

“Common sense is coming back and it’s going to prevail,” he said.

Peters campaigned on stripping government departments of te reo Māori names, saying at the time it was “not an attack on the Māori language – it’s an attack on the elite virtue signallers who have hijacked language for their own socialist means”.

On the campaign trail, Peters said, “this conceited, conniving, cultural cabal doesn’t represent hard-working ordinary Māori – they only seek to use Māori to further their own agenda”.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.

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