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Sociolinguistics Symposium 19: Language and the City

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19

Freie Universität Berlin | August 21-24, 2012

Programme: accepted abstracts

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Abstract ID: 531

Part of Session 120: Sociolinguists on Facebook on the Indigenous Languages in the City (Other abstracts in this session)

Te Reo Māori – the Māori language – in the City

Authors: Davis Waho, Toni
Submitted by: Romy, Daphné Laure (Département de l'Instruction Publique, Switzerland)

Prior to World War II te reo Māori was spoken, written and used by 90% of Māori people who resided primarily in isolated rural tribal agricultural based communities.  Māori soldiers returning from Europe after the war had seen 'the world' and desired access to the cash economy.  The increase in industrialisation created factories especially meat processing plants based near ports and urban communities.  By 1958 80% of Māori had moved to urban areas, far from their tribal communities and the natural environment where their language was used intergenerationally.  By 1979, only 8% of Māori people spoke te reo Māori.

In the early 1970's urban raised youth burst on to the national landscape protesting against the low socio-economic position of Māori people.  They especially highlighted the loss of their ancestral language.  They started a national Māori language movement.  In the 1980s urban based Māori communities worked together to create environments where their ancestral language could be shared by native speakers with younger generations.  Te Kohanga Reo – Māori language nests, Kura Kaupapa Māori – Māori language schools, Te Ataarangi – adult Māori language learning, Wananga – Māori universities – were created.  By 2006 23% of Māori had become Māori language speakers.

The session on Māori language in the city will describe the experience of the urban based Māori language movement, its link to traditional rural communities and the context within the upsurge of Māori development.

Mana Tamariki is a city based community in Palmerston North, Aotearoa – New Zealand, a city with a population of 90,000 of which 15% are Māori.  In 1985 only 1 family used te reo Māori intergenerationally.  In 2012 Mana Tamariki is made up of 50 families totaling 150 individuals who use only te reo Māori with each other.  Mana Tamariki established educational environments from birth to 18 years.  Families who wish to enrol their children are required to speak only te reo Māori between at least one parent and the children.  Mana Tamariki is a case study to illuminate the Māori language revitalisation experience.

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