Te Reo o te Pa Harakeke

What strategies and resources are effective in establishing te reo Māori in the home to raise first language Māori-speaking children?

Te Reo o te Pā Harakeke is a three year research project that seeks to understand the factors that contribute to successful intergenerational transmission of the Māori language in the home. The first three years will be a pilot project with a cohort of couples who have excellent proficiency in te reo Māori. The home includes related environments that families function in such as the supermarket, beach, playground, swimming pool, etc. Therefore, this project aims to develop a comprehensive programme complete with a plan and set of resources including a documentary, which can be adopted by communities, whānau, hapū and iwi committed to the intergenerational transmission of the Māori language and arresting language decline in their rohe (region). This programme is not designed to teach the language; it is designed for parents who though they were not been raised in a home where their first language was Māori have gone on to become proficient 2nd Language speakers themselves. Their next task is to ensure that their children are raised in te reo Māori in the modern world. They need support to ensure that the language journey they embarked upon becomes a life journey for their whānau and for subsequent generations. Given their own experience as children where the use of the language had been disrupted in their own families they are aware of the need to sustain intergenerational transmission of the Māori language. These participants will be enhanced as language leaders within their own communities and with support from Te Ipukarea and NPM, they can offer the programme within these communities.

The research team will track the participants over the course of the project using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.  Participants will be supported throughout the project in their efforts to establish the Māori language as the dominant language of the home. This support will be in the form of regular wānanga held in communities facilitated by the research team and instructed by the mentors who will provide practical advice regarding raising children in the Māori language across family environments. These wānanga will provide an opportunity for participants to connect with other like-minded Māori speakers, thereby fostering a sense of collegiality and a network of support.

The results of this research project will inform future Māori language strategies and plans, influence an entire generation of 2nd Language proficient Māori-speaking parents, and aid in the revitalisation of the Māori language as a language learnt through intergenerational language transmission. It will foster the regeneration of native speakers in our homes and communities so we can see native speakers of te reo Māori as part of our future; not just our past.  The project will be important for endangered languages throughout the world in their efforts to reverse language loss.

Project commenced:

Research Lead(s) and Team

Ngāti Porou Ngāi Tahu Hawaiian Cook Islands Samoan

Professor Tania Ka‘ai has worked in tertiary education for over 20 years. As an Indigenous scholar Professor Ka‘ai uses the cultural values transmitted to her by her elders and mentors as an epistemological framework which informs her own academic writing and teaching (including supervision) within the university academy.

Her work as Director of Te Ipukarea and Te Whare o Rongomaurikura, provides an opportunity to share her knowledge not only with students and staff at AUT and others nationally, but internationally too.