Source: Human Rights Commission
May I complain about the use of te reo Māori?
The Commission does not offer its dispute resolution service for complaints about the use of te reo Māori. Te reo is an indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand, and has been an official language of Aotearoa since 1987. The Commission does not consider it discriminatory to use te reo, for example on official forms, in the media, in Parliament or on signage.
The Human Rights Act sets out what types of discrimination are unlawful. Complaints about the use of te reo do not meet the Human Rights Act criteria because the use of te reo in and of itself is not discriminatory and does not breach human rights. The promotion of te reo is an affirmation of human rights. International human rights law also recognises that indigenous people have a fundamental right to use their language and that it must be protected, along with their culture and heritage.
What about the use of the word ‘Pākehā’?
‘Pākehā’ is a term commonly used to refer to New Zealanders of British or European descent. While not everyone within this category may choose to self-identify as Pākehā, the Commission does not consider it to be a derogatory word. The Commission does not offer our dispute resolution process for complaints about the use of the word Pākehā.