16 Nov 2017

Victoria Uni lecturer completes thesis in te reo Māori

8:20 pm on 16 November 2017

A lecturer at Victoria University has written the institution's first doctoral thesis completely in te reo Māori.

Vini Olsen-Reeder

Vini Olsen-Reeder Photo: Supplied

Vini Olsen-Reeder, from the School of Māori Studies, examined the hidden factors behind te reo Māori speakers' language choices.

Mr Olsen-Reeder said he felt strongly about academics writing in te reo, despite it being a challenge.

"It's really hard in New Zealand and probably globally to write in indigenous languages because your standing as an academic is measured on your ability to get stuff published and read by people.

"It's going to have less of a readership because there's just less people to read it, so that's really hard and it's the reason why quite few people do publish in te reo. But I also think that if we can't get mana in it from our publishing standing we need to put mana in it ourselves and say, this is what we do."

Mr Olsen-Reeder believed writing about te reo Māori in te reo Māori was important.

"If I read something in English that's about te reo Māori I do attribute less mana to it if I know that that person has never written anything in te reo ... how are we portraying that mana if we're not actually living it?"

His thesis explored the language choices of Māori language speakers when they transition from learning te reo to actually using it.

"It came from personal feelings of asking what is it that makes me feel whakamā (shy), what is it that turns me off using te reo but also what turns me on to using te reo.

"There's all of these things that affect our language choices and I wanted to create some kind of detailed explanation of as many things as I could find from the data sets that talked about what turned us off and on to speaking te reo."

Mr Olsen-Reeder will be awarded his PhD at a Victoria University graduation ceremony in December.