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Normalisation of Te Reo Māori is Good for Business

16 July 2019

Research spearheaded by AUT's Te Ipukarea The National Māori Language Institute and the New Zealand Work Research Institute for Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) has shown organisations which incorporate te reo me ngā tikanga Māori (Māori language and culture) in their workplaces benefit from improved cultural satisfaction and increased job satisfaction.

However, the report also identifies some key barriers to many organisations integrating te reo me ngā tikanga Māori into their daily business, ranging from respondents who differentiated between ‘Kiwi culture’ and Māori culture to those who pinpointed negative attitudes in senior positions as an impediment.

Professor Tania Ka’ai, Te Ihorei (Director) of Te Ipukarea, said the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ was also noticeable. “Our research identified many organisations and their staff were worried about mispronouncing te reo Māori, and so hesitated to begin introducing even simple examples into the daily practice of their organisations.”

Ka’ai says, “An important part of any language learning journey is getting over feelings of anxiety or whakamā (feeling embarrassed or ashamed) and giving it a go. Any use of te reo Māori – even if not executed perfectly – enhances its progress. Every little word contributes to the normalisation of this taonga for all Aotearoa.”

The reasons why organisations start including more te reo me ngā tikanga Māori generally stem from wanting to better reflect their staff and customers, says Professor Jarrod Haar of the New Zealand Work Research Institute. “Those organisations quickly see a wider pay off through increased staff satisfaction, opportunities for including a range of diverse views and further professional development.

"Conversely, those that perceived their organisation didn’t have Māori customers or stakeholders didn’t see Māori culture or language as relevant to their job or industry. This suggests there is still some distance left to travel in terms of normalising te reo for all organisations. I challenge all New Zealand businesses to contribute to the revitatlisation of the reo by embracing it in their organisations.”

The research suggests the use of te reo Māori in the New Zealand workplace is growing and the authors are buoyed by the growing confidence in its use.

The full report can be downloaded here:


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