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Kei te ahatia tō tātou reo?

3 December 2013

Kei te ahatia tō tātou reo?

“So how is our language faring?” asks Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori CE Glenis Philip-Barbara, following the release of the 2013 Census results.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) has been analysing the ‘big picture’ for te reo Māori, and believes that the latest Census results are a further call for action.

The Commission is concerned at a downward trend in the proportion of Māori speakers since 1996.

The number of Māori speakers dropped between 2006 and 2013, from 131,610 to 125,352.

A 6.2% drop in the proportion of younger speakers (under-15) indicates that the rate of transmission by parents to babies and children is decreasing.

Several factors affect the decline in the proportion of Māori speakers including: declining enrolments in Māori medium education; emigration; media; and the decreasing rate of transmission of the Māori language by parents to their children.

“The perilous state that the language is in requires concerted effort by all sectors of our society,” says Ms Philip-Barbara.

“These results make for sombre reading. With Christmas almost upon us I strongly encourage whānau and families everywhere to make the time to take stock over the holidays and re-double our efforts to regenerate te reo”.

There are many options available for people who wish to learn the language these days, including for those who wish to learn in family or other groups who are in daily contact with each other.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that learning together increases the likelihood of the language being spoken outside of the ‘classroom’ environment”, says Ms Philip-Barbara.

“For those of us who have learned the language I strongly encourage us to speak Māori wherever and whenever we can, and to encourage others to do the same. Encouragement is key where people are learning and developing confidence.”

“Fundamentally, the survival of te reo Māori depends on the language being used on a day to day basis. Te Reo Māori must be restored to our homes and communities in order to thrive in the future.”

Our commitment is to work with Māori language stakeholders to continue to facilitate:

- The development of community led initiatives through our funding programmes;
- building corpus (vocabulary);
- by developing a research agenda to inform our advice and support to major language stakeholders such as whānau, language speaker communities, government agencies and others
- by promoting the value and importance of te reo Māori in wider society.


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