New $1.5m research initiative examines value of Te Reo Māori

The Honourable Dr Pita Sharples, Minister of Māori Affairs launched Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga’s new research initiative to discover the many diverse ways the Māori language adds value to society at Te Marae, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington 8th of December.

The game-changing Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga initiative entitled Te Pae Tawhiti or “the distant horizon” will explore the value of the Māori language to our nation, its contribution to New Zealand’s society, economy and culture and ways in which the language acts as a vehicle for an indigenous worldview, a particular way of experiencing and explaining the world. Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga is pleased to invest $1.5 million over the next three years in this research initiative, with a tripartite agreement between the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington and University of Otago. Two inspiring Māori researchers have been chosen to lead the initiative; Dr Rāwinia Higgins, School of Māori Studies, Victoria University of Wellington and Associate Professor Pōia Rewi, School of Māori, Pacific, and Indigenous Studies, University of Otago.

The research will seek to understand how the language contributes to economic development, to cultural identity and social cohesion. In addition, the research will contribute to three key areas: uplifting language participation; increasing depth and fluency in Te Reo; and understanding the value of the Māori language in a variety of settings.

Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Professor Charles Royal says: “In studying the value of the language and attempting to answer the question as to why the language should continue to live in our country, we expect that this research will bring new people to the language and assist in increasing understanding and fluency.

The research will also assist policies of direct and indirect relevance to the language including those concerning Māori medium education (kōhanga reo through to whare wānanga), broadcasting avenues (Māori television and radio), tourism ventures and more.”

Professor Charles Royal says: “The Māori language enriches the lives of all New Zealanders in small and large ways. The value of that enrichment, both actual and potential, has yet to be understood and articulated. However, in time, this valuable research will join with other initiatives in refreshing efforts to uplift the language and enable it to be a national treasure.”