Ko tō ringa ki ngā rākau a te Pākehā – The use of digital resources in the learning and teaching of te reo Māori: a case study

Duder, Elisa Margaret
Ka'ai, Tania
Moorfield, John
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Master of Arts in Maori Development
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Auckland University of Technology

Te reo Māori (the Māori language) is the heritage language of the indigenous people of New Zealand. Since official colonisation by the British in 1840, the impact of successive Government policies, post-WW2 urbanisation and English-language dominance, have all contributed to significant Māori-language loss. In the 1970s it was realised that Māori as a language would not survive into the next millennium with the decline of the number of native speakers and intergenerational language transmission. Since then, efforts have been made in the revitalisation of te reo Māori, pre-eminent among them the establishment of a Māori-medium schooling system; legal and political recognition of the Māori language; an increase in Māori language broadcasting; and successful marae-based (courtyard and building around the meeting house) and community-based movements aimed at teaching te reo Māori to adults. This project looks at one aspect of Māori language revitalisation: second language learning located in a Māori Development Faculty of an Auckland tertiary provider. The teaching and learning is based on the Te Whanake series written by Professor John Moorfield. The Te Whanake series illustrates the development of language-learning resources over the last thirty years, with the transition from textbooks, tapes and CDs to include a range of online digital tools. This research used a mixed-methods approach to explore both the learner and teacher experience of the digital tools in the second language learning of te reo Māori. The research supported the notion that the successful use of digital tools in educational contexts required a sound pedagogical knowledge of how digital resources can be used. The research highlighted the critical role teachers had in linking tikanga Māori (Māori customs and values), pedagogy and technology so that resources capitalised on students’, and teachers’, digital and cultural capital. The research process involved a non-Māori researcher in a Māori context. This experience was considered against the development of a Kaupapa Māori research methodology. Despite decades of literature and discussion on research methods in Māori contexts, there are only two major methodologies available to the New Zealand researcher. On the one hand is the Western tradition of objectivity and neutrality, with its assumptions about the access to knowledge. On the other hand there is the Kaupapa Māori (practices based on Māori customs and values) methodology based on Māori customs and values such as tapu (restriction and respect), koha (reciprocity and acknowledgement) and aroha (compassion and empathy). To avoid the dichotomous position of these two methodologies, a new research methodology is proposed. It is framed around the process of crafting tukutuku (ornamental lattice work) panels to illustrate how the Māori and western tradition could be “re-framed” for Pākehā undertaking research in Māori contexts, or indeed research based in New Zealand. The project concludes with observations about the combination of tikanga Māori, Māori pedagogies and an in depth knowledge of educational technologies, and the importance of these in learning te reo Māori. It provides a model for learners of te reo Māori, based on those three elements called He Anga e-Whakaako Reo. The Faculty’s wider contribution to Māori language revitalisation was also considered. The learners, teachers and resources explored in this research project not only had to deliver academically-rigorous content, but must also maintain the integrity of a threatened indigenous language, which is nothing less than a culture’s link between its past and future.

Maori language , Digital technologies , Te reo Maori , Second language learning , Second language teaching
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