15 Sep 2022

Dr Kiri Dell on what Māori and Pākehā need to consider in their te reo Māori journey

From Smart Talk, 7:05 pm on 15 September 2022

Dr Kiri Dell explores what Māori and Pākehā need to consider for the revitalisation of te reo Maori to become a reality.

(This talk is a highlight from Auckland University's Raising the Bar series)

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Photo: RNZ/Vinay Ranchhod

Through acts of assimilation and racism, te reo Māori has been pushed to the brink of extinction.

In recent years, millions of dollars have been poured into language revitalisation, yet fewer than 20 percent of Māori can speak te reo confidently.

Normalising te reo is a language revitalisation strategy viewed as essential for its survival. The strategy advocates learning the language as a national duty, and a taonga for usage by all New Zealanders.

Consequently, the uptake of te reo by non-Māori speakers has increased significantly. However, many Māori are feeling left out, unaccounted for and marginalised by the strategy, which they perceive as focusing on Pākehā accessing, speaking, and using te reo Māori.

In this talk, Dr Kiri Dell brings to light the complex layers of our country’s journey to become a te reo Māori nation and attempts to open up conversations and considerations for both Māori and Pākehā.

A man learning te reo Māori

A man learning te reo Māori Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Dr Dell reads from a series of tweets that make suggestions about how Pākehā who are making an effort to learn te reo Māori should comport themselves:

  • Pākehā are manuhiri in a te reo class.
  • Be mindful of the physical space you take up. Leave space for others to answer questions.
  • Pākehā presence can be really hard on others.
  • Pākehā experience of education is different from non-Pākehā.
  • If you’re learning a pepeha, remember your own whakapapa.
  • Pākehā are highly praised for any effort in te reo Māori, and Māori are just expected to know.
  • Try not to bring it back to yourself in the class.

Kiri Dell

Kiri Dell

Photo: Elise Manahan / University of Auckland

Dr Kiri Dell is a Senior Lecturer in the Business School at the University of Auckland. She is a Ngāti Porou woman living in her tribal territory of Ruatōria. Her main passion is working with whānau and activating their aspirations for whenua Māori. She holds various director, trustee and board roles across a number of organisations, and is a chair of the Indigenous Caucus of the Academy of Management. She has a lively and large whānau, which enables her to play the many roles of mum, aunty, daughter, sister, cousin and niece.

This session was broadcast in association with the University of Auckland’s Raising the Bar night, held in August 2022

Raising the Bar Auckland logo

Photo: University of Auckland