This guide is for people who are looking for ideas about how to strengthen te reo Māori in communities.

What can we do to strengthen te reo Māori in our community?

Making a community language plan

Community groups who want to strengthen their use of te reo Māori can also develop their own language plans. Planning can help people who want to use, hear and see more te reo Māori in the community. Every community has a unique group of people, with different ages, personalities, likes and dislikes, and goals. There may be a lot of people, kura, places and organisations in the community that can support their reo Māori journey, or not many at all. Thinking about all these things will help communities work out what their language plan might look like.

It is up to the community or the group to decide what their priorities, goals and activities are for language revitalisation.

Some things to consider are:

Critical awareness:

How much do we know about language, the history of te reo Māori, and the benefits of being bilingual?

Use:

Where do we hear, speak, see, and write te reo Māori?

Acquisition:

How could we learn more te reo Māori?

Status:

How could we encourage positive attitudes towards te reo Māori?

Corpus:

How could we fill gaps in knowledge, find kupu etc? 

Motivation:

How could we motivate ourselves and others to kōrero Māori?

Community:

How could we form or surround ourselves with a community of speakers?

 

 Some things to think about when making a language plan for your community

Important aspects of a language plan

Questions to think about

What do we know about our community and the current status of te reo Māori?

 

How many te reo speakers are there in our community?
What ages are the speakers?
How well do they speak Māori?
Where are speakers living and working?
Where is te reo Māori used in the community? (Places and times.)
What reo Māori relationships are happening in the community? (For example, between the local council and kura.)
How is the language valued by the community? 

What are our community goals and priorities for te reo Māori?

What are the community goals for te reo Māori?
What does the community want to achieve and by when?
When does the community think it’s important for te reo Māori to be used? Some examples are:

·         as a home language

·         as a formal language, for example, on marae

·         as an informal language – for everyday conversation.

What approaches and activities could we choose?

 

What kind of activities, approaches and strategies does the community think will work best?

What places and spaces are there (or could there be) where new and fluent speakers would enjoy spending time together? For example, traditional activities involving kaumātua and rangatahi, social media communities, immersion camps.

 

What do we know works?

Three successful approaches to language revitalisation are immersion, being able to access expert support and exchange of good practice between language communities.

Immersion

It helps if there are times and places where everyone is “immersed” or surrounded by others who speak te reo Māori. Some examples are: kōhanga reo, kura, Te Ataarangi, kura reo.

Expert support

It helps if there are people who can help support learners, especially if the learners and their community decide what sort of help they want, and when. Some examples are:

  • Elders (native or fluent speakers) who mentor younger speakers.
  • Experts such as language planners, linguists, and researchers who can, for example, help communities develop language plans or create resources using the dialect/s of the community.
  • Community members who have themselves become the experts for their own language communities (e.g., through courses, and mentoring by established experts).

 

Literacy

  • Reading books, songs, apps, dictionaries, images and signs etc. will help adults and tamariki learn.

Exchange of good practice

  • It helps when language communities share good practices with each other.

 

Information in this summary is from a literature review that Te Wāhanga–NZCER completed for Te Mātāwai to identify good practice in language revitalisation for whānau and communities.

 

Te Mātāwai have commissioned a range of research regarding revitalisation of te reo Māori at the micro level (in whānau and communities). In the following section we explain what the research tells us about language revitalisation and provides some tools to help in your whānau or community.

 

What does this mean?

Language revitalisation refers to bringing a language forward into common, normal use in modern life by increasing the number of speakers and the range of domains that it is used. Languages are revitalised when the use of the language is normalised in communities, so that they can sustain the language and language capacity into the future using intergenerational transmission and use the language in all walks of life.

A healthy linguistic community is one where the language is the regular means of communication across the same generation and between peer groups.

Micro-level language revitalisation refers to activities by whānau and communities to revitalise te reo Māori. This is the focus of the Maihi Māori and the work of Te Matawai. Micro activities are more locally focused, compared with macro activities which are usually national level by government institutions. Macro activities are the focus of the Maihi Karauna and the government agencies responsible for implementation of the Maihi Karauna.

 

What are the critical elements of language revitalisation?

Literature agrees that there are five critical elements of language revitalisation: acquisition, use, critical awareness, status and corpus. Research conducted by NZCER suggests that there are two further elements: motivation and communities.

Element

Description in relation to micro-level revitalisation

Acquisition

Learning language, e.g. informal learning such as listening to whaikōrero or karanga, or hearing and using language at home or in community social settings; formal learning in reo Māori class

Use

Using the language in a home or community – e.g. Speaking, hearing, reading and writing

Critical awareness

Understanding language revitalisation – e.g. knowing that being immersed in the language supports acquisition

Status

Valuing the language at all levels = e.g. whānau commit to learning te reo Māori because it supports their identity

Corpus

Vocabulary, orthography, grammar, language variations and styles – e.g. phrases that parents can use at home with children

Motivation

Individuals’ motivation to learn and use a language can vary and be influenced by each of the previous elements

Community

Being in a community of speakers so that language can be used and lived everyday

 

What can we do to revitalise te reo Māori?

For whānau and communities, we have identified that language revitalisation focuses on daily language practices and increasing/ improving the use and acquisition of te reo Māori. Raising critical awareness is also important to support whānau to make informed decisions about te reo Māori.

Every whānau and community has its own context, meaning that there is no one right way to revitalise the reo. Certain combinations or approaches and practices will suit the needs of some, but not necessarily others.  However, there are some critical factors that can assist whānau and communities to develop the best approach for your own context. This includes understanding your own context, the language abilities of your members and the types of support available to develop a plan suitable for your whānau or community.

We have developed some tools to assist you with developing Māori language plans appropriate for your whānau or community.