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Purpose and key points

Tirohia tēnei whārangi i te reo Māori

Nau mai, haere mai ki Ka mārō te aho tapu, ka tau te korowai: Te reo Māori findings from Te Kupenga 2013.

The title of this report likens te reo to the first thread of a korowai (cloak). If the primary thread is strong the entire korowai, and the interwoven strands, will endure.

Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.
The language is the life essence to Māori as a people and to people as Māori.


Purpose

Ka mārō te aho tapu, ka tau te korowai: Te reo Māori findings from Te Kupenga 2013 explores the drivers related to Māori language proficiency and usage inside and outside the home in New Zealand. In particular, it looks at whether there is a strong relationship between areas that have been at the forefront of investment in te reo Māori revitalisation – such as use in the home, Māori-medium education, and whānau.

Te reo Māori (the Māori language) is recognised as a taonga or treasure. During the last 30 years, it has increasingly been recognised as being in need of support. Successive governments have actively invested in educational, community, and whānau initiatives to help revive this taonga.

Te Kupenga data provides the first opportunity to relate information on te reo Māori proficiency with use, education, and other aspects of Māori culture.

The report adds value to current discussions about the future strategy for the revitalisation of the Māori language. It provides data to support beliefs. But it also signals the potential of Te Kupenga to support a more evidence-based approach towards Māori development.

Key points

Higher ability in te reo Māori is associated with greater use of the language.

  • Around 85 percent of Māori able to speak te reo Māori either very well, well, or fairly well spoke at least some te reo at home, compared with 58 percent of those able to speak only basic te reo (those able to speak not very well).
  • Māori who were able to speak te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well were more likely to use the language outside the home than inside.

There is a strong relationship between te reo Māori and other aspects of culture.

  • Of the 38,000 Māori with te reo Māori as their first language, 52 percent spoke the language very well or well. In comparison, 7 percent of Māori adults with English as their first language could speak te reo Māori very well or well.
  • 62 percent of Māori who knew all aspects of their pepeha (Māori tribal identity) used at least some te reo Māori in the home, while only 16 percent of those who knew fewer aspects of their pepeha did so.
  • Half of the 124,000 Māori who felt it was very important to be involved in Māori culture spoke te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well.

Educational factors impact on te reo Māori ability.

  • Half of the 16,500 Māori who had been enrolled in both kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa could speak te reo Māori very well or well. Overall, 92 percent could speak more than a few words or phrases in the language.
  • 19 percent of Māori with a bachelor’s degree or higher were able to speak te reo Māori very well or well.

There is a strong relationship between use of te reo Māori in the home and whānau.

  • 46 percent of Māori with children in their household spoke some te reo Māori inside the home compared with 23 percent of those without children in the home.
  • 78 percent of those whose children had been enrolled in kura kaupapa spoke at least some te reo Māori at home, including 35 percent who spoke it equally with another language or more often.
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