Maori Youth Learning and Using Te Reo

  • Parekura Horomia
Maori Affairs

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia said he is encouraged by provisional results of the Survey of the Health of the Maori Language that show more young people are learning and using te reo Maori.

The Government Statistician today released the results of the survey, which collected information from 5,000 Maori respondents. Mr Horomia said previous te reo Maori research showed a declining number of Maori speakers, so it is good to see the number has now stabilised.

“The results show that some 9% of Maori adults can speak Maori ‘well’ or ‘very well’, while a further 33% have some Maori language skills. Furthermore, these people are using their Maori language skills with family members – especially children – in Maori communities.

“This is good news because language is a critical part of our culture – ko te reo te mauri o te mana Maori. It’s the way we express the things that make us unique in the world. It’s also the tool for transmitting these things to our children and to future generations.”

Mr Horomia said a related Te Puni Kokiri survey showed there is widespread agreement amongst respondents that the Government has an important role to play in the revitalisation of the Maori language.

“This Government is committed to the revitalisation of Te Reo Maori. Work is underway to coordinate and align Te Reo Maori development in key areas such as education (through kohanga and kura), broadcasting (through radio and television), and community support (through Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori funding). Today’s results will help us revise and refine our strategies. It will also set the benchmarks so that when we repeat the survey we will be able to identify clear trends of Maori language health.”

The full survey results will be available in April 2002, when the Census 2001 results are released.