Sonny Williams responded to comments made last week by Pastor Ngarima George, who said the Ministries of Culture and Education must to do more to ensure the language is spoken by future generations.
Both ministries are doing as much as they can, Williams said.
“We do run events and activities with a strong Maori content.”
Some examples of the Culture Ministry’s work include Te Mire Atu (Composers Competition), Mire Ura (Dancer of the Year), Te Maeva Nui (Cultural Festival), and sponsoring Maori speaking competitions in schools.
“At the end of the day, it really comes down to whether parents speak Maori to the children or not,” Williams said.
Asked whether he thinks many parents speak Maori to their children, he said: “Not many and decreasing”.
Williams said the Ministry of Culture battles every year to get Budget funding for all its activities.
Pastor George does not sit in on Budget bidding meetings witnessing the fight for funds to maintain cultural, arts and heritages programmes, he said.
“If he did, he wouldn’t be so quick to point fingers.”
The reduction in funding over the years has resulted in some activities being dropped, or taken up by the private, community and non-Government sectors.
“We don’t do and can’t do everything in the cultural and heritage sector. Some of these are carried out by others including, Voyaging Society for Ocean Voyaging, Vaka Eiva, Koutu Nui, Are Korero, Kau Taunga, Vairakau Maori, etc,” Williams said.
“We’ve been encouraging people like Ngarima to run Reo Maori Learning Classes.”
He also said the Ministry of Education is doing more now in teaching Maori than it has ever done before.
George would know this if he went and spoke to the Ministry, Williams said.