Longitudinal study to measure te reo Māori

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The internationally recognised longitudinal study Growing Up In New Zealand collects detailed information from 7000 children and their families from before birth and into the children's adulthood. Leading the Culture and Identity fields of the study, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi says the resource will help develop policies for Māori language retention and revitalisation.

"We'll know where the children are in their Māori and Pākehā worlds, we'll know what pathways lay before them, we'll know what types of resources will help them grow and develop," says Professor Taiarahia Black (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Whānau a Āpanui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa).

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi is analysing data extracted from the internationally recognised longitudinal study Growing Up In New Zealand.

Professor Taiarahia Black says, “We'll know how they interact with each other, from children to youth, and we'll know what resources can foster those relationships.”

Shaun Cooney (Ngāti Ranginui) says his partner committed to the study while her daughter was still in the womb. She's now 9 and Cooney says their participation as a family has been beneficial. He’s just enrolled in a language course at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

“Unfortunately some of us haven't had that in our lives but very lucky enough to give it to our tamariki to start on,” says Cooney.

Approximately 1700 (24%) of participants identify primarily as Māori. Professor Tai Black says it's not just about Māori.

“It will show the world how the Māori language is between Māori and Pākehā children, regardless of where they are headed,” says Professor Taiarahia Black.

The project is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.