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Cultural factors and connection to ancestral marae

Tirohia tēnei whārangi i te reo Māori

This chapter looks at the cultural factors associated with connecting to ancestral marae.

Results from Te Kupenga showed:

  • a strong link between tūrangawaewae and visiting ancestral marae
  • proximity to ancestral marae tūrangawaewae impacts on recent visits
  • knowing pepeha has a relationship with ancestral marae
  • te reo Māori associated with visiting ancestral marae
  • Māori-medium education plays a role in ancestral marae connection.

Given that ancestral marae are seen as one of the cornerstones of Māori culture, these findings are unsurprising. However, they support the idea that culture is made up of a number of different elements and it is hard to separate individual aspects of it.

Strong link between tūrangawaewae and visiting ancestral marae

To have tūrangawaewae means to have a place to stand and belong and to feel connected to that place – for Māori this is often an ancestral marae. Having an ancestral marae as tūrangawaewae is strongly linked with a person’s likelihood of visiting their ancestral marae.

Over half (54 percent) or 282,000 Māori adults reported they had an ancestral marae that they thought of as their tūrangawaewae.

Nearly all (94 percent) Māori with an ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae had been to any of their ancestral marae at some point in their lives. This compared with 25 percent of those who didn’t have an ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae.

More than half (57 percent) of Māori with an ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae had been to their ancestral marae in the last 12 months. Of those, 61 percent had been more than three times, including 10 percent who did so 21 or more times.

In contrast, only 6 percent of those without an ancestral marae as tūrangawaewae had been to their ancestral marae in the last 12 months, and most of them (69 percent) had been only once or twice in that 12 months.

Figure 1

Graph, Visits to ancestral marae in the last 12 months, by ancestral marae as tūrangawaewae, June to August 2013.  

Of Māori with an ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae, 63 percent wanted to go to their ancestral marae more often. Less than half (44 percent) of Māori without an ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae wanted to do so.

Proximity to ancestral marae tūrangawaewae impacts on recent visits

Māori who lived close to the ancestral marae they thought of as their tūrangawaewae (within a 30-minute drive) were more likely to have been there in the last 12 months and to have gone more often than those who did not live close.

Three-quarters of the 71,500 Māori living close to their ancestral marae tūrangawaewae had been there in the last 12 months. Nearly 80 percent of these had been there more than three times in that time, including 22 percent who did so over 21 times.

Of those not living close to the ancestral marae they thought of as their tūrangawaewae, 27 percent had been there in the last 12 months. Around half (52 percent) had been there more than three times, including only 4 percent who had done so 21 times or more.

Māori not living close to their ancestral marae tūrangawaewae are more likely to want to go to their ancestral marae more often than those who are living close. Of those who didn’t live close, 60 percent wanted to go more often compared with 55 percent of those who lived close.

Knowing pepeha has a relationship with ancestral marae

Māori who know all aspects of their pepeha (tribe, sub-tribe, mountain, river, ancestral marae, ancestor, waka) are more likely than those who know fewer aspects to have ever been to their ancestral marae. They are also more likely to have been there recently, to have been there more often, and to want to go more often.

Over one-third (39 percent) or 205,500 of Māori adults knew all aspects of their pepeha.

Māori who knew all their pepeha were more than twice as likely as those who knew less about it to have ever been to their ancestral marae (95 percent compared with 41 percent). The proportion of those who had been to their ancestral marae in the last 12 months was 63 percent, compared with just 15 percent of those who knew fewer aspects.

Of Māori who knew all their pepeha, 37 percent had been to their ancestral marae six or more times in the last 12 months, compared with 15 percent of those who knew fewer aspects of it.

The majority (65 percent) of Māori who knew all their pepeha wanted to go to their ancestral marae more often. While there was little difference for Māori who knew fewer aspects of their pepeha − 52 percent wanted to go more and 48 percent did not.

Te reo Māori associated with visiting ancestral marae

Māori with te reo Māori as their first language (the first language learnt as a child and still understood) are more likely than those with English as their first language to be connected to their ancestral marae.

Of the 8,000 Māori with te reo as their first language, 92 percent had been to their ancestral marae at some point in their life, and 69 percent had been in the last 12 months. This compared with 60 percent and 31 percent of those whose first language was English.

Almost half (45 percent) of Māori with te reo Māori as their first language had been to their ancestral marae six or more times in the last 12 months, including 20 percent who had been 21 times or more. Of those with English as their first language, 29 percent had been six or more times.

Greater involvement with ancestral marae linked with proficiency in te reo Māori

Nearly all (95 percent) of the 50,500 Māori who spoke te reo Māori very well or well had been to their ancestral marae at some time in their life. Of this group, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) had done so in the last 12 months. In contrast, 45 percent of the 257,000 Māori who understood only a few words or phrases in the language had ever been to any of their ancestral marae, with 18 percent visiting in the last 12 months.

Those with greater te reo ability also tend to go more often than those least able to speak the language. Nearly half (49 percent) of those who spoke the language very well or well had visited six or more times in the last year. This compared with 17 percent of those able to speak no more than a few words and phrases.

Figure 2

Graph, Ever been to ancestral marae, by te reo Māori speaking ability, June to August 2013.  

Around half (51 percent) of Māori who spoke only a few words or phrases in te reo wanted to go to their marae more often. This compared with 64 percent of those who spoke more than a few words and phrases.

Māori-medium education plays a role in ancestral marae connection

Enrolment in any Māori-medium education (that is kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, wharekura, or wānanga) is associated with greater connection to ancestral marae.

Over 90 percent of Māori adults who had been enrolled in both kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa / wharekura had been to their ancestral marae at some time in their life. This compared with 55 percent of those who had never been enrolled in any Māori-medium education. They were also more than twice as likely to have been to their ancestral marae in the last 12 months as those who had never been enrolled.

Figure 3

Graph, Visited ancestral marae in the last 12 months, by enrolment in Māori-medium education, June to August 2013.  

Māori who had been enrolled in wānanga only had the highest rates of visiting ancestral marae in the last 12 months – 71 percent had visited three or more times, including 17 percent who did so 21 or more times. In comparison, just over half (53 percent) of Māori who had never been enrolled in any form of Māori-medium education had been three or more times, including 5 percent who had been more than 21 times.

Māori who had ever been enrolled in any Māori-medium education are also more likely than those who have never been enrolled to want to go more often to their ancestral marae.  Of Māori who had been enrolled in both kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa / wharekura, 67 percent wanted to go to their ancestral marae more, compared with 56 percent of those who had not been in enrolled in any Māori medium education.

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