Pathways to retention and revitalisation of Te Reo Māori

Pathways to Retention and Revitalisation of Te Reo…
01 May 2020


The primary objective of this research was to understand the current state of Te Reo Māori among pre-school children and to identify the enablers and barriers that contribute to the acquisition of Te Reo Māori in children. This project is a critical step in understanding the current state of Te Reo Māori in New Zealand and highlighting the barriers and enablers that currently contribute to the acquisition and retention of Māori language in children. Using the GUiNZ longitudinal data, the research objectives of this project asked the following questions:

  1. What are the demographic characteristics of being a Te Reo Māori speaker during early childhood?
  2. What are the predictors of Te Reo Māori language acquisition from the antenatal, infancy and early childhood period?
  3. How is cultural connectedness associated with Te Reo Māori use at 4.5 years of age?


Analysis of data from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study (GUiNZ) via a kaupapa Māori lens. The sample set consisted of all available data from the 2 Year (n=6327) and 4.5-year (n=6052) data collection waves. 

Objective 1. To first identify the demographic characteristics of speaking Te Reo Māori during early childhood, we conducted separate univariate analyses of variance (ANOVAs) to assess children’s proficiency in Te Reo Māori at ages 2 (Appendix E: Table 1) and 4.5 years.

Objective 2. To ascertain the early childhood predictors of Te Reo Māori acquisition, we used multivariable regression analyses to assess the unique predictive factors of Te Reo Māori proficiency among cohort children at ages 2 and 4.5.

Objective 3. To explore whether cultural connectedness was associated with Te Reo Māori usage in early childhood, we used multivariable regression analyses to identify associations between parental perceptions of cultural connectedness and children’s use of Te Reo Māori at age four.

To ensure that a Māori world view informed both the approach and the outcomes, an advisory board was set up that included a range of perspectives from Māori researchers, Te Reo Māori experts, and policy representatives from multiple contexts.

Key Results

Findings included evidence for growth in Te Reo Māori proficiency, indications that Te Reo Māori strategies are beginning to take effect, an increasing trend of non-Māori interest in Te Reo Māori, the potential of communities of Te Reo Māori, and the value of parent-child interactions for Te Reo Māori development.

Page last modified: 14 Nov 2023