A critical analysis of the impact of colonisation on the Māori language through an examination of political theory

Anaru, Nomana Albert
Ka'ai, Tania
Moorfield, John
Ka'ai-Mahuta, Rachael
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Master of Arts in Maori Development
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis consists of two sections. In the first section the thesis will critically analyse the impact of colonisation on te reo Māori (The Māori Language). This will be achieved, in part, through an examination of the whakapapa (genealogy) of te reo Māori. This whakapapa begins in South East Asia and concludes in Aotearoa/New Zealand. An examination of the history of te reo Māori, before and after the arrival of Pākehā (New Zealander of European origins) will follow and a discussion on the impact of colonialism on the Māori language. Many aspects of colonialism are explored including: religious, political, environmental and ideological factors. In order to invigorate a language one must seek to remember it in its wholeness (Thiong’o, 2009). This section concludes with a critical discussion of the current status of te reo Māori and posits some suggestions for its regeneration and survival for future generations.

The second section of this thesis will examine the epistemological, pedagogical, ontological, phenomenological, existential, ideological and critical theories of thirteen kaiariā (theorists), to provide greater analysis of the impact of colonialism on te reo Māori and Māori ideology. For example, Niccolo Machiavelli’s theories of leadership define the rules of encounter when colonising a people. Machiavelli’s idea that the end justifies the means is a clear example of how colonialism has been justified, without consideration of the impact on the indigenous people, in achieving the objectives of the colonising power (Goodwin & Machiavelli, 2003). Antonio Gramsci wrote that economic or physical force alone was not enough to ensure control by the bourgeoisie of the proletariat, but that a system that could manipulate social consciousness had to be devised by the colonising or ruling class, described by Gramsci as hegemony (Woodfin 2004). Hegemony, used as a colonising tool is invasive and attacks the fundament ideological nature of indigenous beliefs, values, and customs as well as questioning the value of indigenous languages.

This thesis will provide greater understanding of the relationship between political theory and the impact on the Māori language and Māori ideology to use as a tool or a foundation for the revitalisation of te reo Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand and possibly beyond by other groups involved in the revitalisation of their endangered languages.

Te reo Māori , Political theory , Colonisation
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