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).
Otago has very low numbers of Māori language speakers – French is the most widely spoken second language in the region. Given this context, it is important that any interventions aimed at revitalising and maintaining the Māori language are evidence-based. There is ample research on second language acquisition but little that shows the actual as opposed to self-reported experience of the second language learner as transmitter of this language within the home.