New Zealand’s linguistic ‘superdiversity’

New Zealand is ‘superdiverse’, having seen unprecedented increases in the ethnic, cultural, social and linguistic diversity of the New Zealand population in the last few decades. But how do we, as a nation, deal with the numerous language issues that this diversity creates?

ExclaimA new policy paper, launched this week by the Royal Society of New Zealand, outlines the importance of language in a country as ethnically diverse as New Zealand and calls for a national language policy, similar to those already in place in other developed countries.

You can access the full paper and view interactive maps of New Zealand’s language distribution here.

In a media release from the Royal Society, Dr Sharon Harvey, Head of the School of Language and Culture at AUT University and member of the Society’s Social Sciences and Humanities Advisory Panel notes that “there are a number of increasingly urgent language issues in New Zealand such as: the uncertain trajectory of Te Reo Maori; the endangered languages of the New Zealand Pacific Realm; minimal recognition for community languages in the education system; and the paucity of support in New Zealand government departments for multilingual citizens, to name but a few. This paper helps us understand how we might address them and what the national picture looks like.”

The policy paper has received national media attention. Examples include:

TVNZ News: Push for changes to language learning
Newstalk ZB: NZ’s diversity highlighted in Royal Society paper
NZ Herald : NZ sitting on language goldmine
Radio NZ: Encouragement urged for language learning
NZ Herald: Lack of multi-language plan puts Kiwis on back foot – expert
Newstalk ZB: Policy being drafted to support multi-lingualism
Yahoo! NZ: Education system doesn’t make most of second languages
TVNZ News: Call for fresh thinking of foreign language teaching
Radio Rhema: NZ rich in racial diversity
Dominion Post: New Zealand Language Diversity Expected To Grow