Here is an alternative idea to use the 50 million, that no final decision has been made on yet, for the building of the House of Tahu.
Get serious about our language
It's great to see young Ngai Tahu who can speak the language. For many older iwi members there has not been the opportunity to learn, and now many in their 30's, 40's and 50's would love to learn, if it was made easier.
I think one of the big barriers is money. It's is difficult to imagine going to college for a year to learn Te reo, on a student income or maybe using savings. How can someone take time off their job to do the hours needed to learn. I don't think 2 hours a week at Te reo class can do the job unfortunately.
So if we take the 50 million and cut it into 50 x 1 million pieces we have 1 million a year to spend for 50 years. That should make the whole thing totally funded. Take the 1 million and cut it so that you provide a full scholarship for 12 people of $50,000 each. Everyone gets $50,000 to offset, during the full years learning, their income.
Everything can be measured and the 12 people will have to do the learning otherwise the money is refunded on a prorata basis. That is $600 thousand. The other $400 thousand or so is used to pay tutors, resources etc.
Part of the deal is that the learners must go back into their communities and teach other Ngai Tahu. At the end of the first 12 months we have 12 good speakers going back into their communities and teaching our language. Another 12 people begin the program. The initial 12 do more advanced courses similar to the current good offerings.
At the end of 24 months we have another 12 starting and so on. All for very little money.
All of the figures can be adjusted to get the mix right. You can have 20 people for a shorter total investment period. You could give people $60,000 instead of $50,000. You could even pay the $50,000 for 3 years so that the learners can really become teachers. It doesn't really matter, the pool is big enough to absorb all of the adjustments.
It could be done and it would dramatically increase the self confidence of Ngai Tahu whanui in a very short period of time.