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