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Other factors related to te reo Māori ability and use

Tirohia tēnei whārangi i te reo Māori

This chapter looks at the relationship between te reo Māori proficiency and use and other aspects of life for Māori adults.

Te Kupenga provides new information that links te reo Māori proficiency and use, including the relationship between areas that have been at the forefront of investment in te reo Māori revitalisation – such as cultural identity, education, and whānau.

Three key drivers of te reo Māori ability and use

The analysis in this chapter is based on a framework that theorises that some key areas of life are associated with te reo Māori ability and use.

See appendix 1: Methodology for more on this framework.

Testing the framework through simple correlation and regression analysis showed a strong relationship between te reo Māori ability and use, and Māori culture. Cultural measures strongly related to te reo include:

  • first language learnt as a child and still understood
  • importance of involvement in Māori culture
  • knowledge of Māori tribal identity
  • participation in modern cultural practices
  • sole Māori or multiple ethnicities.

Throughout this report we show the relationships between te reo ability and use and these measures using descriptive statistics.

The strength of these relationships shows that all these elements are interrelated in Māori culture. For most Māori, te reo Māori is part of their culture, as with knowing their ancestry, being connected to their marae, and engaging in modern cultural activities. The relationships emphasise the role of te reo Māori as an integral component of Māori culture.

Weaker, yet still significant relationships also exist between te reo ability and use, and other measures. In particular, a strong relationship exists between te reo ability and education measures, such as enrolment in Māori-medium education and highest qualification attained. The use of te reo Māori at home is also associated with whānau measures such as:

  • children living in the home
  • children enrolled in Māori-medium education
  • whānau size.

Social and socio-economic measures, however, are not strongly related to the ability and use of te reo Māori. This means, for example, that Māori with low income are equally likely to speak te reo as those with high incomes. Similarly, those with poor health have the same likelihood of speaking any level of te reo as those with good health.

A strong relationship does exist between te reo Māori ability and use and age. In particular, older Māori (55+) are more likely to speak te reo very well or well than younger Māori.

See Te Kupenga 2013 for a more detailed discussion of this relationship.

Te reo Māori strongly related to culture and identity

Greater ability among those with te reo Māori as first language

Among Māori with te reo Māori as their first language (38,000 people), a third (32 percent) could speak the language very well and over half (52 percent) spoke it very well or well. Less than 10 percent could speak no more than a few words or phrases. In comparison, 7 percent of Māori adults with English as their first language could speak te reo Māori very well or well, and four-fifths could speak not very well or only a few words and phrases.

Te reo Māori as the first language is also associated with greater use of it. Of those with te reo as their first language, 79 percent spoke at least some at home, and 82 percent spoke at least some outside the home. For those with English as a first language, the proportion was 33 percent in each.

Graph, Amount of te reo Māori spoken in and outside the home, by first language, June–August 2013.  

The more important Māori culture is to a person, the more likely they are to speak te reo Māori

Māori who feel it is very important to be involved in Māori culture are more likely to speak te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well, than those who feel culture is less important. Half of the 124,000 Māori who said they felt it was very important to be involved in Māori culture spoke te reo very well, well, or fairly well, compared with 22 percent of those who felt it was quite important and 11 percent who felt it was somewhat important.

Only a small proportion of the 37,500 Māori who felt that being involved in Māori culture was not at all important could speak te reo Māori. Nearly all those who felt Māori culture was not at all important could speak no more than a few words or phrases (76 percent) or only about simple/basic things (18 percent).

Graph, Te reo Māori speaking ability, by level of ability and importance of involvement in Māori culture, June–August 2013.

The more important Māori culture is to a person, the more likely they are to speak te reo Māori inside or outside the home.

Of those who felt involvement in Māori culture was very important, 64 percent spoke at least some te reo in the home. This compares with 27 percent of those who felt Māori culture was somewhat important and 8 percent of those who felt it was not at all important.

Of Māori who felt it was very important to be involved in Māori culture, 66 percent spoke at least some te reo outside the home. This compares with 44 percent of those who felt Māori culture was quite important and 10 percent of those who felt it was a little important.

Knowledge of pepeha strongly associated with te reo Māori

Knowing aspects of pepeha (traditional tribal identity) is strongly related with te reo Māori ability and use.

Māori who know all seven aspects of their pepeha (tribe, sub-tribe, mountain, river, ancestor, canoe, and ancestral marae) are more likely than those who know fewer aspects to speak te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well. Of those who knew all aspects of their pepeha, 44 percent spoke te reo very well, well, or fairly well, compared with only 7 percent of those who knew six or fewer aspects of their pepeha.

Māori who knew none of their pepeha were made up almost exclusively of those who spoke te reo not very well (14 percent) and those who spoke only a few words and phrases in the language (80 percent).

Māori who know all aspects of their pepeha are also more likely than those who don’t to speak te reo Māori inside and outside the home. Of those who knew all of their pepeha, 62 percent used at least some te reo in the home and 64 percent at least some outside the home. This compared with 16 percent of those who knew fewer aspects of their pepeha – for both in and outside the home.

Those who participate in modern cultural activities more likely to be proficient in te reo Māori

Māori who participate in modern cultural activities are more likely than those who do not to speak te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well.

Reading a Māori magazine, listening to a Māori radio station, and going to a hui were the activities that had the highest proportions of proficient te reo speakers.

Graph, Te reo Māori speaking ability, by participation in cultural activities, June–August 2013.  

However, it does appear that not being able to speak te reo Māori well is not a barrier to participating in many cultural activities. For example, three-quarters (73 percent) of Māori who watched a Māori television programme were those who could speak no more than simple/basic te reo.

Sole Māori ethnicity strongly related with te reo Māori

Of Māori who identified only with Māori ethnicity, 135,500 (68 percent) were able to speak more than a few words or phrases in te reo Māori. This figure was made up of 17 percent who could speak te reo well or very well, 17 percent who spoke fairly well, and a further 34 percent who spoke not very well.

Of those who identified with more than one ethnicity, 45 percent spoke more than a few words or phrases in te reo Māori, including 6 percent who were able to speak te reo very well or well.

Those with sole Māori ethnicity are also more likely than those of multiple ethnicities to speak te reo inside and outside the home. Half of those with sole Māori ethnicity spoke some te reo to someone in their household. This proportion included 13 percent who spoke it equally with another language or more to someone. Of those with multiple ethnicities, 27 percent spoke some te reo Māori at home, including 4 percent who spoke te reo Māori equally or more.

Those of sole Māori ethnicity are also more likely than those of multiple ethnicities to use te reo Māori outside the home. The survey showed 50 percent used at least some te reo, including 20 percent who used it equally or more. For people with multiple ethnicities these proportions were 27 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Ability to speak te reo Māori related to education

Enrolment in Māori-medium education impacts on proficiency

In the context of Te Kupenga, Māori-medium education included kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa/wharekura, and wānanga. Overall, 134,000 (28 percent) Māori adults had been enrolled in some form of Māori-medium education:

  • 60,500 (13 percent) in kōhanga reo
  • 29,000 (6 percent) in kura kaupapa
  • 16,500 (4 percent) in both kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa
  • 79,500 (18 percent) in wānanga.

Māori that had been enrolled in all three types of Māori-medium education numbered 7,000.

Enrolment in any type of Māori-medium education – at both kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa in particular – is associated with greater ability to speak te reo Māori. Half of those who had been enrolled in both kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa could speak te reo very well or well, with 92 percent able to speak more than a few words or phrases.

For Māori that had been enrolled in either only kōhanga reo or kura kaupapa, 19 percent could speak the language very well or well, and 74 percent could speak more than a few words or phrases.

Of Māori that had not been enrolled in any Māori-medium education, 6 percent spoke te reo very well or well, and less than half (46 percent) spoke more than a few words or phrases in the language.

Māori who had been enrolled in Māori-medium education are also more likely than those who hadn’t to speak te reo to someone they live with. Of those who had been enrolled in any type of Māori-medium education, 60 percent spoke at least some te reo within the home. This compared with 27 percent of those who had not been enrolled in any Māori-medium education.

Graph, Te reo Māori speaking ability, by level of ability and enrolment in Māori medium education, June–August 2013.

Higher qualifications associated with greater speaking ability

Māori with higher levels of educational qualifications, such as a level 5 or 6 diploma or a bachelor’s degree and above are more likely than those with lower-level qualifications to speak te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well.

Of Māori with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 19 percent were able to speak te reo well or very well. This compared with 16 percent of those with a level 5 or 6 diploma, 8 percent of those with a level 1–4 certificate, and 10 percent of those with no qualification. However, the overall proportions of those who could speak some te reo Māori (more than a few words or phrases) were fairly similar regardless of qualification level.

Use of te reo Māori at home related to whānau characteristics

Greater use of te reo Māori when there are children in the home

Having children at home is associated with slightly higher overall levels of speaking proficiency. Of Māori with any children at home, 58 percent had some ability to speak te reo Māori (more than a few words or phrases), compared with 53 percent of those without children in the household.

Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between having children at home and greater use of te reo there. Of Māori with children in their household, 46 percent spoke some te reo at home, including 11 percent who spoke the language equally or more. For those without children at home the proportions were 25 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
  
Graph, Amount of te reo Māori spoken in the home, by people living in the home, June–August 2013.  

Those with children enrolled in Māori-medium education speak te reo Māori more

Those with children who had been enrolled in Māori-medium education have higher rates of using the language at home. This was particularly evident for those with children who had been enrolled in kōhanga reo or kura kaupapa, compared with those whose children had not been enrolled in Māori-medium education.

Of those who had children who had been enrolled in kura kaupapa, 78 percent spoke at least some te reo in the home, including 35 percent who spoke the language equally or more. The proportions were similar for those with children enrolled in kōhanga reo: 70 percent spoke at least some te reo at home, including 25 percent who spoke it equally or more.

The majority (62 percent) of Māori whose children had not been enrolled in any Māori-medium education spoke no te reo at home, while 33 percent spoke some and 5 percent spoke it equally or more.

Larger whānau size related to greater use of te reo Māori

The larger the size of a person’s whānau, the more likely they are to use te reo Māori at home. Of those with 51 or more people in their whānau, 44 percent spoke at least some te reo at home, compared with 31 percent of Māori with a whānau of five or fewer people.
  
Graph, Amount of te reo Māori spoken in the home, by whānau size, June–August 2013.  

 

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