The Health of the Māori Language in Te Waipounamu 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. Twenty-two percent of Māori households in Te Waipounamu have at least one Māori language speaker. In 61% of these households there is only one speaker, limiting the possibility of language use in the home.

Seventeen 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 since 2001 in communications with preschool children but declined with primary school and secondary school aged children. For example: there has been an increase in interactions of adults with their pre-school children from 65% in 2001 to 79% in 2006; a decrease in interactions of adults with their primary school-aged children from 56% in 2001 to 28% in 2006; and, a decrease in interactions of adults with their secondary school-aged children from 37% in 2001 to 10% in 2006.4 These findings indicate a very low likelihood of the establishment of intergenerational transmission.

The use of the Māori language in the community remains most common in Māori cultural domains such as on the marae. Levels of communication in other domains has decreased since 2001 in some domains.

Māori Language Competencies by Age

Māori Language Competencies by Age
Age grouping No. of people with Māori
language competencies
Total
population size
Māori
language rate
Proportion of all Māori
with Māori language
competencies
0-14 2334 21798 11% 23%
15-34 3639 20976 17% 37%
35-54 2601 14040 19% 26%
55+ 1371 5460 25% 14%

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.

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

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