The Health of the Māori Language in Te Waipounamu 2006

Māori Language Knowledge and Proficiency

<p>This fact sheet provides a summary of the main findings of ‘The Health of the Māori Language in Te Waipounamu 2006’ report.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>This report draws on a variety of research to provide a composite picture of the Māori language in the region; including: Census data; Health of the Māori Language (HML) survey data; education statistics; observations from national research; and information from language planners and community representatives working in Te Waipounamu. The full report is available at</p>

According to the 2006 Census, the Māori language rate for Māori adults in Te Waipounamu is 19%, among an adult Māori population of 40,500.

Te Waipounamu has the lowest Māori language rate among the eight regions in the HML Survey. HML Survey data shows that more people can understand the Māori language (36%) than speak it (15%).2

There are significant differences in the proportion of Māori language speakers across age groups. For those people aged up to fifty-five, the Māori speaking rate is 15%, whereas for those people aged fifty-five or over the rate is 25%. However, the population of Māori speakers aged over fifty-five is small compared to the population in younger age bands. Older speakers are also more proficient in the Māori language than young adult speakers.

Since 2001, there have been noticeable improvements in Māori language proficiency levels within the Māori population in these regions. For example: speaking proficiency has increased from 10% in 2001 to 15% in 2006, and listening proficiency has increased from 25% in 2001 to 36% in 2006.3

Sixty-six percent of Māori adults are dissatisfied with their level of proficiency in the Māori language and desire to increase their language skill levels.


1 For our reporting purposes Te Waipounamu is defined as Southland, Otago, West Coast, Canterbury and the Chathams.
2 For more detailed data, refer to the full report.
3 Amongst Māori adults who can speak Māori fairly well, well or very well.

Table of contents

The Health of the Māori Language in Te Waipounamu 2006

  1. Māori Language Knowledge and Proficiency
  2. Māori Language Use
  3. Provision of Māori Language Services
  4. Conclusions

Back to top