Pacific Languages, Neoliberalism and Language Education Policy
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Since 1984 and the election of a fourth Labour Government, New Zealand has been characterised as one of the most neoliberal countries in the world. Neoliberal theory frames most policy, including educational language policy. In this paper I report on the effects of neoliberalism on Pacific languages in schools, focussing on several policy positions the current National-led government has taken over the last three years. These include the Inquiry into Pacific Languages in Early Childhood Education, the Pacific Education Plan and the Pacific Languages Strategy. These policies present community language maintenance and language decline and even extinction as private matters to be dealt with at individual, family and community levels, rather than as issues that should be explicitly addressed and supported within the education system. The paper examines Pacific languages in New Zealand in their historical context and problematises the government’s privatised and individualised approach to Indigenous languages of the Pacific.