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Tai Tokerau academic sets 'first' for NZ educational journal

Tai Tokerau academic sets 'first' for NZ educational journal

A hui that discussed the need to promote the Māori language inspired a University of Auckland lecturer to write the first academic article for the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies (NZJES) ever published entirely in te reo.

Dr Georgina Stewart, a lecturer at the University’s Te Puna Wananga School in the Faculty of Education, wrote the article called ‘Te take kāhore ahau e tuhi rangahau ki te reo Māori’ as a philosophical reflection on the pros and cons of writing research in Māori.

Translated the title means: ‘The reason I don’t write research in Māori’, and was written after Dr Stewart was given the suggestion at a hui by Associate Professor Carol Mutch, a colleague and journal board member.

The hui was called to celebrate the launch of the NZJES inaugural Special Issue on the theme of Kaupapa Māori (Volume 47, Number 2, 2012), which was co-edited by Faculty academics Dr Te Kawehau Hoskins and Professor Alison Jones. Associate Professor Mutch spoke to the gathering about the wish of NZJES to support and promote te reo Māori even further by publishing work written through the medium of te reo Māori, since the journal guidelines permit submissions in both of Aotearoa New Zealand’s official languages.

In the article Dr Stewart considers the arguments for and against this type of work from the perspectives of language, knowledge, content and philosophy. It is therefore appropriate as a first article of its kind, since it takes a step back and considers the significance of this kind of activity. The article’s wider importance is as a signal to other Māori researchers of what is possible, and also as a learning experience for the publishers of the journal.

“When Carol spoke of the journal’s wish to publish Māori-medium research my thoughts flew into an immediate state of confusion, and the idea of writing this article popped into my head.

“The really interesting thing was that by the time I had finished writing the article, I came to appreciate how using the language medium of te reo Māori to reflect in writing on this issue had allowed my thoughts to flow in new and unexpected directions.”

“I think as a country we’ve become very aware of the precarious state of the language and I think there’s a huge concern that te reo should not become an extinct indigenous language.”

Dr Stewart says that the process of writing the article highlighted the importance of te reo to her, but also the difficulties in writing research in the language.

She now feels that she will continue to write most of her research in English instead of te reo Māori, so she can engage in the global debates that surround educational research.

“Because research is a global entity then for me personally I will mainly continue to write my research in English, because I want my research to be part of that global conversation.”

“It’s appropriate that the researcher should be able to use the Māori language, but it’s not appropriate to think that all Māori research must be written in Māori.”

Dr Stewart has been teaching in te reo for over 20 years. In 1989 she moved to live in Te Taitokerau and extended her knowledge of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga. She returned to Auckland to train as a secondary teacher of Te Reo Māori, Science and Mathematics in 1991 and taught in Māori-medium and English-medium secondary schools in Auckland and Whangarei until 2004. Alongside teaching she has been involved in national developments in curriculum, assessment and resource development, which continued after her enrolment in the Doctor of Education degree in 2001, and still continue today. Since graduating EdD in 2007 Georgina held research positions with the Starpath Project and NZCER before being appointed as a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education.

‘Te take kāhore ahau e tuhi rangahau i te reo Māori’ is published in Volume 49, Number 1, 2014 pp. 37-42 of the NZJES.


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