The Health of the Māori Language in Waiariki 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-four percent of Māori households in Waiariki have at least one Māori language speaker. In just over half of these households there is only one speaker, limiting the possibility of language use in the home.

Thirty-seven 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, especially in communications by adults with their children and with parents in the home. For example: Māori language interactions between adults and their pre-school children have increased from 62% in 2001 to 90% in 2006; Māori language interactions between adults and their secondary school-aged children have increased from 36% in 2001 to 56% in 2006; and, Māori language interactions between adults and their parents have increased from 40% in 2001 to 55% in 2006.4 Whilst 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 in 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 6588 26961 24% 29%
15-34 6525 22485 29% 29%
35-54 5631 18282 31% 25%
55+ 4116 8304 50% 18%

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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