The Health of the Maori Language in Te Taitokerau 2006

Māori Language Use

International research on language revitalisation suggests that for minority languages like Māori to survive, intergenerational transmission is required.

Māori speakers are clustered together and are not spread evenly throughout the Māori population. Forty-two percent of Māori households in Te Taitokerau have at least one Māori language speaker. In nearly half of these households there is only one speaker, limiting the possibility of language use in the home.

Thirty-four percent of children or dependants live in households where there is at least one adult speaker of te reo, meaning that acquisition through intergenerational transmission is possible.

For people with Māori language skills, use of te reo Māori in the home has increased overall since 2001, especially in communications between adults and children, and adults and their parents. For example: Māori language interactions between adults and their pre-school children have increased from 71% in 2001 to 78% in 2006; Māori language interactions between adults and their secondary school-aged children have increased from 58% in 2001 to 80% in 2006; and, Māori language interactions between adults and their parents have increased from 57% in 2001 to 72% in 2006.4 While this is a positive indicator of the occurrence of intergenerational transmission, communication patterns in the home have not yet reached a level where the Māori language is considered the primary means of communication.

The use of the Māori language in the community remains most common in Māori cultural domains such as at hui or on the marae. The Māori language is not the primary means of communication in other everyday activities within the community setting.

Māori Language Competencies by Age

Māori Language Competencies by Age
Age grouping No. of people with Māori
language competencies
population size
language rate
Proportion of all Māori
with Māori language
0-14 3210 15582 21% 26%
15-34 2985 11841 25% 25%
35-54 3159 10617 30% 26%
55+ 2787 5490 51% 23%

Source: Census 2006.


4 These percentages combine the percentage of Māori adults who used the Māori language as a significant language of communication and the percentage of Māori adults who made some use of the Māori language in their interactions.

Māori Language Use by Māori Adults in the Home

Line graph of usage of te reo in the home by Parents, Spouse, Preschool children, Primary school children, Secondary school children, Other adults

Source: HML 2001 Survey, HML 2006 Survey.

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