Implementing the Māori Language Strategy

Performance audits from 2007: Follow-up report.

The Māori Language Strategy (the Strategy) is a 25-year strategy to co-ordinate and prioritise government action towards Māori language revitalisation. The Strategy was jointly produced by Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development), and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Te Taura Whiri). The Strategy was published in October 2003.

Six agencies lead the Strategy: Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Taura Whiri, Te Māngai Pāho (the Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency), the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Ministry of Education, and the National Library of New Zealand. Each agency leads areas appropriate to its role.

Te Puni Kōkiri’s responsibilities include co-ordinating, monitoring, and evaluating the overall Strategy. Te Puni Kōkiri also monitors progress towards the 25-year goals every five years.

The scope of our audit

We audited how effectively the Strategy was being put in place by the various lead agencies. Our audit focused on three questions:

  • Has Te Puni Kōkiri co-ordinated Strategy work effectively?
  • Have the lead agencies carried out Strategy planning effectively?
  • Is Te Puni Kōkiri monitoring Strategy outcomes and evaluating the effectiveness of the Government’s Māori language activities?

Our audit’s scope did not include examining activities that the lead agencies might be carrying out to implement their Strategy plans.

Our findings

Partly because of staffing changes, Te Puni Kōkiri’s overall Strategy co-ordination had been variable since its release in 2003. By the 30 June 2004 deadline set by Cabinet, no agency had completed and finalised a plan that fully met the Strategy’s requirements. However, since March 2005, Te Puni Kōkiri’s co-ordination and support became more precisely targeted. It gained a better understanding of each agency’s challenges and needs and took a more flexible approach to how each agency could meet the Strategy planning requirements.

We acknowledged that the lead agencies had challenges to contend with. Some agencies with no explicit focus on Māori language or strong relationships with relevant stakeholders found understanding and carrying out their particular responsibility in the Strategy to be very challenging. Those agencies with the strongest focus on Māori language (Te Taura Whiri and Te Māngai Pāho) had made the most progress in planning to implement the Strategy.

Nevertheless, we stated that the lead agencies needed to hasten their planning to fulfil the Strategy’s requirements.

Monitoring and evaluation

In our view, Te Puni Kōkiri had properly monitored the health of the Māori language through surveying the health of the Māori language and attitudes to the Māori language. It had not yet evaluated the effectiveness and efficiency of the Government’s Māori language activities. This was partly because Strategy planning by the lead agencies had not progressed far enough to provide a basis to assess progress in each area by 2005/06, when the initial evaluations were scheduled to begin.

We made 11 recommendations for Te Puni Kōkiri and the other lead agencies.

The response to our findings and recommendations

Our performance audit suggested that Te Puni Kōkiri and other lead agencies needed to give the Strategy more attention. Te Puni Kōkiri has accepted the recommendations in the report relevant to it, and has encouraged the other lead agencies to also address the recommendations.

During our audit, Cabinet had directed a Strategy review in 2008/09 that would focus on, for example, outcomes, roles of the Government, and the relationships between Māori and the Government. This review is currently under way, and scheduled to finish in June 2009. Te Puni Kōkiri has worked with the lead agencies during the 2007/08 financial year to carry out several self-evaluations supporting the Strategy review.

We have worked with Te Puni Kōkiri to ensure that our findings could contribute to the review. Eight of our 11 recommendations are expected to be carried out as part of the review.

The remaining three recommendations relate to regular briefings to the Minister of Māori Affairs on progress in implementing the Strategy, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage having more active engagement with its stakeholders, and Te Puni Kōkiri and the other lead agencies working together to identify how they could influence their stakeholders to be more actively involved with the Strategy. Work to implement these three recommendations is continuing.

Our staff and Te Puni Kōkiri officials meet regularly, and the Strategy’s implementation forms a standard agenda item. Our discussions have revealed that all agencies are showing increased commitment to the Strategy.

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