- Wednesday, August 08, 2018 1:52 PM
Wellington, 8 August 2018 (MIA) – New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern has pledged that her newborn daughter would grow up to learn both English and the country’s indigenous Māori language, the New York Times reports.
Ardern’s first child, Neve Gayford, was born on June 21, and the PM returned to work last week after six weeks of parental leave.
In an interview on Monday with Māori Television, Ardern said that she 'certainly' wants her daughter to speak the indigenous language, which is battling for survival after years of decline.
Ardern and husband Clarke Gayford, a former television host who has become a stay-at-home parent, gave their daughter a Māori middle name, Te Aroha, which is the name of Ardern’s hometown and means 'love'. She explained in the interview that she chose the name because it captured the warmth, generosity, and kindness the Māori community had shown the family.
Māori, or “te reo Māori” as it is widely rendered in New Zealand, is one of the country’s three official languages — along with English and New Zealand Sign Language — but it is thought only about 125,000 of the country’s 4.7 million people, or about 2.5 percent, speak it, according to the New York Times.
Ardern's government, however, has a goal of creating a bilingual New Zealand and plans to make Māori universally available in schools by 2025.
Another Labour Party lawmaker, Willie Jackson, who is the associate minister of Māori development and an advocate for the language, lauded Ardern for using her status to promote bilingual education.
“When you have a language that’s on the verge of dying — and sadly with our language those types of predictions have been made — we need every type of positive strategy we can to resurrect it,” Jackson said. mr/13:52
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