Native language of Patukoraha surveyed

By Harata Brown

A doctorate research conducted by an alumnus of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo aims to analyse the health of the Māori language of a subtribe based in the Far North.

Hohepa Maclean hopes that his research can make a difference.

“Yes, it can be said that the native language (of Patukoraha) is nearly dead. There is only about 5% who are fluent. I may be able to count on one hand the amount of people who are very fluent at speaking the language,” says PhD candidate Hohepa Maclean.

Maclean is a Māori language teacher based at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. His doctorate research through AUT University builds on his post graduate research that developed a language strategy for both Patukoraha and Te Whanau Moana, subtribes of Ngāti Kahu.

Now Maclean aims to identify and measure the quality of Patukoraha's Māori language speakers to find language motivation theories, to further increase the need to want to learn. 

“It might be of value perhaps to create an environment and technique that can further attract people and find an urge within themselves towards the language. But it is difficult,” says Maclean.

Maclean estimates that there are about 500 people who descend from Patukoraha and through conducting surveys and interviews, it is hoped that the study will also contribute to the sustainability and development of Patukoraha's native language.

According to Hohepa there are not many people who are responding to the study. He says “it's a sign perhaps that they don't know who I am, it maybe perhaps because our people are dispersed and many are based here in Auckland, it maybe perhaps many of them do not find value in the language.”

Maclean's research is the first of its kind based on the people of Patukoraha. The findings aim to be made available upon completion in 2016.