We are now 30+ years on from when our children first had the opportunity to attend Kōhanga. They are a part of a fortunate generation, like those who will follow them. And so too are those that are following. But what of those older Māori, their parents and grandparents, some of who do speak te reo but many who do not? What challenges to tikanga, age related roles and relationships do these demographics present? Status, mana, roles, responsibilities, ritual duties and leadership are all age related concepts that, in the Māori world, assume a foundation of learning that leads to experience, competence and accumulated wisdom over time. It is assumed that pakeke are more able and expert than rangatahi. At formal marae events like tangihanga, unveilings, baptisms, weddings, and various hui, the presence of pakeke, kuia and koroua is a statement of prestige and mana and bestows honour upon visitors. But these events increasingly require pakeke to participate as te reo speakers, in gendered and age determined ways. With the rise and aging of the Kōhanga generation, what pressure is being placed on tikanga, age related roles and relationships? Is the affected generation displaced by this new generation and at what cost to tradition and custom? Is the new generation being asked to step into age related roles that require proficiency in te reo? And what impacts do such shifts have?  Are these permanent, temporary or fluid? Are people diminished or esteemed in the process? Do lives and meanings change? These critical questions are what we intend to explore in this study to discovering mana enhancing strategies for our whānau, hapū and iwi.

Challenges and continuities: Unintended impacts of Te Reo Māori language revitalisation efforts will answer the following research questions:

  • What are the experiences and strategies employed by pakeke and rangatahi to maintain mana when contexts require te reo proficiency?
  • What are the implications of shifts in age and role related customary practices on pakeke and rangatahi relationships and broader whānau and hapū processes?
  • What are mutually supportive practices that enrich the mana and wisdom of pakeke, and the learning and development experiences of rangatahi, towards te reo and tikanga enhancement?


Project commenced:

Research Lead(s) and Team

Linda Waimarie Nikora is co-director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and a Professor of Indigenous Studies at Te Wānanga o Waipapa, the University of Auckland. She was previously Professor of Psychology and Director of the Maori & Psychology Research Unit at the University of Waikato. Her specialities are in in community psychology, applied social psychology, ethnopsychology and Maori development.

Emeritus Professor Ngahuia te Awekotuku continues to contribute in the arts and creative sector. With degrees in Art History and English, her PhD (1981) was in cultural psychology. She wrote an early (1991) monograph on Maori research ethics. For decades she served in the heritage environment as a governor, curator and activist/advocate. Her scholarly works on culture, gender, heritage and sexuality, and her fiction and poetry, have been published and acclaimed locally and internationally.

Ngāti Hako Ngāti Māhanga

Waikaremoana Waitoki is a Research Officer in the Māori and Psychology Research Unit (MPRU) at the University of Waikato. She is also a Clinical Psychologist specialising in mental health.