Project purpose: The project is a pilot for a larger project tracking phonological development (speech skills) in Māori for Māori speaking pre-school children. Although there is a substantial body of literature on how children develop speech sounds in English we know nothing about the developmental trajectory in Māori.
Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga is pleased to invest $1.5 million over three years in this research initiative, with a tripartite agreement between the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington and University of Otago. Two inspiring Māori researchers have been chosen to lead the initiative; Dr Rawinia Higgins, School of Māori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington and Associate Professor Poia Rewi, School of Māori, Pacific, and Indigenous Studies, University of Otago.
Even after 30 years of Māori language revitalisation movements, the Māori language continues to be in a perilous state. Despite these efforts there is no one method that can stem the decline as societal factors still impact adversely on language development. The most successful Māori language revitalisation movements are those located at the ‘flax-roots’ level. However, as highlighted in the Pre-publication of the Waitangi Tribunal’s WAI 262 Report, there are a number of factors that have eroded Māori language revitalisation movements since the mid 1990s.
There are multiple Government funded initiatives aimed at addressing Māori language decline, including increasing the amount of Māori Language spoken, maintenance and quality. Te Puni Kokiri (2006 Health of the Māori Language Report) touched on the attitudes of wider New Zealand society towards the Māori language as unengaging and unlikely to change in the immediate future (p.7).