Simultaneous interpretation of Parliament into Maori

Tuesday 15 December 2009, 4:36PM
By Pita Sharples

Maori Party Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples today asked the Speaker for details about how Parliamentary proceedings would be translated into Maori in real time, starting next year.

In a point of order at the start of today’s sitting, Dr Sharples noted the announcement by the Clerk of the House, that simultaneous translation will be introduced when the House resumes sitting in 2010.

“The Maori Party is pleased to hear this advice, as we believe that it will increase the understanding of Maori, add to the profile of te reo, improve pronunciation and establish the status of te reo as an official language of this land,” said Dr Sharples.

The Clerk informed all MPs that each seat in the debating chamber will have an earpiece with volume control fitted.

MPs would be able to choose their preferred audio stream with the television broadcast and the webcast. One stream will be as spoken on the floor of the House. The alternative stream will be ‘English only’ – providing the English interpretation instead of Maori whenever it is spoken.

“This decision follows the recommendation last year from the Standing Orders Committee, at the instigation of my colleague Te Ururoa Flavell,” said Dr Sharples.

“In 2005, at the very first meeting of the Business Committee after the Maori Party entered Parliament, Te Ururoa proposed a trial of simultaneous translation. Budget was allocated in 2007, and the fruits of this initiative are almost ready.

Dr Sharples also made reference to the support of other members in the House, noting the speeches made back in 1999 by Hon Tau Henare who called for the issue of a simultaneous broadcast and simultaneous translations of the language, to be on the agenda of the House.

"Mr Henare spoke of the Maori language as the life principle of Maori prestige; and as having legal status since 1987 when it received official status.”

"The introduction of simultaneous interpretation brings with it a long history of fighting for this beautiful taonga,” he said.

“As major users of Maori language in the House, we are specially interested in the practical details of how the service will actually work,” said Dr Sharples.

“We sought clarification from the Speaker as to how the service will impact on the operations of the House, and Speaker Lockwood Smith undertook to get back to MPs with further details,” he said.