“The human rights law defines the types of discrimination that are illegal. The use of te reo does not meet the criteria,” she said.
“So it aligns with our legislation and better directs our resources.”
Elvy told Midday Report that the commission receives a persistent number of complaints every week regarding the use of Maori te reo.
“These are usually just single numbers each week, but sometimes it’s more or less.”
She said the move was meant to signal their respect and commitment to helping te reo thrive in Aotearoa.
“We know how easily a language can be lost. I think it was Professor Rawinia Higgins who said that she is lost in a generation; it takes three generations to find it.
“I understand that for those who don’t speak Reo, I understand that it is not a pleasant feeling. My encouragement for them would be to give it a try.
“There are loads of great resources online, there are apps, local libraries have resources. Try it out, it’s fun, it’s a great reo and I really encourage people to check it out. know a little more and become curious. “
Past complaints have erroneously suggested that the use of the word Pākehā is pejorative, and that in te reo forms and greetings discriminate Pākehā.
Te reo Maori is an official language in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and all indigenous peoples also have a fundamental right to self-determination and the protection of their language, culture and heritage.
The commission said this was particularly the case in Aotearoa, where He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi asserted the inherent right of tangata whenua in Tino Rangatiratanga.
The Office of Human Rights Procedures is an independent office within the commission. Individuals can request legal representation if their complaint has not been resolved at the commission.
The director of human rights procedures, Michael Timmins, said his office would not accept requests for legal representation on the matter. “I tautoko this Commission kaupapa.”
State-sanctioned attempts to assimilate Maori into British culture by suppressing the language have a long and documented history in Aotearoa.
For over 100 years, Maori children have been beaten and traumatized in Indigenous schools for speaking their Reo. However, by 1987 the change had started and Te reo Maori was recognized as the official language in Aotearoa.
Although the language remains in danger, its use has grown, with many believing that it should be celebrated and protected, as exemplified by the widespread engagement with Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
Today’s announcement is in line with that of other public bodies such as the Broadcasting Standards Authority, which announced in March that it would stop hearing complaints about the use of te reo.