Te reo Māori the focus of new Master's scholarship

By Mānia Clarke

Some Māori students from NZ tertiary institutions will receive $10,000 Kia Ita Scholarships for their Master's degrees which will focus on the revitalisation of the Māori Language. 

For four years, Joanne McNaughton has been learning to speak Māori. However, she's found it difficult living in Auckland and away from her relatives in Rotorua.

“Outside of the classes, I don't have friends who I can speak and practise Māori with.”

Joanne's passion to maintain her mother tongue motivated her, along with some of her peers, to form a Kapa Kōrero Facebook page to foster speaking Māori. It's also part of her Master's thesis.

“We meet every two weeks to speak Māori. I am observing how the group is supporting adult speakers of Māori.”

The Māori Language Commission and the New Zealand Māori Centre of Research Excellence established the scholarship last year.

Chairman Wayne Ngata says, “There are many ways the language is going out. It's being heard on the radio, seen and heard on television, and in written text. This has resulted in more people writing their Master's thesis in Māori.”

McNaughton says, “My spoken Māori isn't as strong as my written Māori.  These meetings help improve my speech.”

It's expected that applications for the scholarship will be available again by October.