Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (2.38 MB)

Whakatipu te Pā Harakeke: What are the success factors that normalise the use of Māori language within the whānau?

Download (2.38 MB)
posted on 2021-11-15, 16:28 authored by Muller, Maureen

Despite the language revitalisation efforts of kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori, the Māori language is still endangered. The population of highly proficient speakers is dwindling (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). The Māori language is not a language of everyday use across a range of settings (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2008). Language experts have identified intergenerational transmission as the principal means of evaluating the vitality of a language and a key factor in reversing language shift (Fishman, 1991; Spolsky, 2004). This requires re-establishing the Māori language in the home. Although there is evidence of the re-emergence of intergenerational Māori language transmission, this is at the initial stages and is not yet the norm in Māori society. The process of transferring the Māori language from generation to generation depends on decisions by parents to learn and use te reo Māori on an everyday basis in their interactions with their children. Whilst educational institutions can support whānau and communities, they cannot take their place (Fishman, 1991). Community support is vital because a living language requires a pool of active speakers, in particular those who speak the language to younger community members.  This thesis examines the efforts of eight whānau who have contributed to the revitalisation of the Māori language by ensuring the language is transmitted intergenerationally to their children. All but one of the parents learnt Māori as a second language in their adult years. Six critical success factors emerged from the findings that can be utilised by language planners and parents wanting to normalise the use of Māori within the whānau. The factors include critical awareness, family language policy, Poureo, support, resources and increasing parental language skills.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Maori Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Maori Studies : Te Kawa a Māui


Higgins, Rawinia; Te Huia, Awanui