What the Wha…

WANT to really know how the Miceal (silent ‘h’) Law letter to 12 year olds from  Otaki School’s total immersion class ended up in the media?

Yes. Me too. But here’s my imaginary scenario of what might have happened.  An upwardly mobile parent of  one of the pupils   (please note it is not a kura kaupapa)  is aghast to see the over the top response the Mayor of Wanganui, Micael Law (silent ‘h’) wrote to his shy daughter’s polite request. He/she shows it to a collegeaue at work [in Wellington] and starts an avalanche of emails.

Let’s say it lands in the In Box of a savvy Maori media woman and the letter takes on a life of its own as it charges around the Capital’s kumara vine contacts. Hey presto this  ‘gold plated’  news story becomes the lead of TV and Radio news right through the week. It was also fodder for affronted politicians, blog writers, talk-back  and other media spectrums.

Spare a thought then for the Wanganui Mayor  Micael Laws [silent ‘h’] who must have thought his rant with the handful of Maori language pupils was going to be like the roughouse abuse in sad families (that he talks about)  – and never see the light of day. His aim was to hit the target and move on.  I reckon he would have been horrified to see it got to mainstream media.

I say this because rather than graciously telling media he had been a ‘bit heavy handed’ he instead came out swinging.

He did not take up the chance to visit Otaki School for a  ‘muffin and something to drink’. That is a shame. If he did he would see how Te Reo Maori is thriving in the small Kapiti coast town. In Te Rauparaha street alone there are three kohanga reo, two kura kaupapa  (primary and secondary level) and of course the brilliant Te Wananga o Raukawa which offers Te reo at university – tertiary levels.

Indeed I would not be writing anything about this hoha (annoying) story if it were not for the attitude of Mr Laws . He is allowed to voice his opinion but if he  did  choose to visit our beautiful seaside town he would see  how Otaki School is just one of the many “language springs” who honour and nurture the retention and survival of Te Reo.

He criticised the young students  using the offending word pukuriri. His council translator of the letters should also have told him that the word  pukuriri can (the same as in English) have other meanings graduating from grumpy or irritable to angry.

Finally I invite him [and others interested ] to visit the National Archives in Wellington and see documents of the Treaty of Waitangi and the 1865 Declaration of Independence. Included in those 1840-65 documents is a map where his city is spelt with a ‘h’ as Whanganui.

This was spotted by one of my budding journalism students. The future of our ataahua (beautiful) country rests with him and others of our future generations.


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