Breadcrumbs

New research indicates people are using more Māori words in English, as well as understanding a wider range of them.

University of Waikato Masters student Katie Levendis has looked at newspapers in the North Island over a decade (2008-2017), tracking Māori ‘loanwords’. Loanwords are any Māori words used in New Zealand English. She has focused specifically on the topic of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week. Katie has analysed which words are most common in association with the topics, how they are being used, and if there has been any increase over time.

Earlier research from 2006 and 2001 saw Māori loanwords at about 6 per 1000 words of running speech. Katie’s findings dwarf that, showing an average of 35 Māori loanwords per 1000 in her newspaper data. The most frequently used words were unsurprisingly Māori and te reo, with the rest of the top ten in order: iwi, reo (no preceding ‘te’), whanau, marae, kapa haka, Pakeha, Kiwi and kia ora.

Another thing Katie has examined is whether words are translated or explained into English for readers. “If they are translated we can assume that the author thinks they are not commonly known by the audience. Sometimes words are being translated where you would not expect them to be. If somebody translates the word ‘iwi’ that is a little bit unusual, as it is quite common. So we can track the authors’ perceptions of what is widely known.”

The topic terms both showed an upward trend over time. ‘Maori language week’ increased slightly over the 10-year period, but more notably, ‘te wiki o te reo Maori’ had a clear and significant increase in use. Katie says this shows the former phrase is well established in New Zealand English, while the occurrence of ‘te wiki o te reo Maori’ has gained acceptance in in recent years and will probably become more common in future. “It is still often translated into English, but Māori Language Week isn’t usually translated into Māori. So one form is being used way more, while the English version is staying the same.”

From analysis of the newspapers, it appears that the percentage of Māori loanwords used generally correlates with the size of the Māori population in the area of its target audience. The Daily Post in Rotorua used the most, and Katie says it appears to be actively engaged in promoting the language.

Katie’s supervisor is Dr Andreea Calude. “Over the decade,  it appears we are using more Māori loanwords, and translating fewer of them.  The perception is that the average New Zealander knows more Māori words.”

Associate Professor Hēmi Whaanga from the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies says the research reflects the growing awareness and resurgence of interest in te reo Māori across many sectors of Aotearoa. “This momentum echoes the Government’s goal of 1 million speakers of basic te reo by 2040, the current debate circulating on compulsory te reo Māori in schools, developing quality te reo teachers and the place of Pākehā in the future of the language. This year’s theme, ‘Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’ (Let’s make the Māori language strong), resonates with the aspirations of the activists who petitioned Parliament on September 14 1972, paving the way for us to celebrate te reo Māori as a living language.“

The corpus in its final form was made up of 290 New Zealand English articles on the topic of Māori Language Week, all taken from NZME newspapers.  The 3,795 Māori loanword tokens  that occurred in the corpus were distributed across 186 loanword types (counting “Kiwi” (people) and “kiwi” (bird) as 2 distinct types ). A total of 21 newspapers provided the foundation for the corpus.

The research is supported by a Royal Society Marsden grant.

Ko ngā rangahau hou e tohu ana kei te nui te whakamahia o ngā kupu Māori ki roto i te reo Ingarihi, me te whānui hoki o te mārama ki aua kupu rā.

Kua arotake tētehi ākonga paerua, arā ko Katie Levendis nō te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, i ngā nūpepa a Te Ika-a-Māui mai i te tekau-tau (2008-2017), me te tirotiro i ngā ‘kupu-whakawhiti-reo’.  Ko te kupu-whakawhiti-reo, he kupu Māori e kōrerotia ana ki roto i te reo Ingarihi o Aotearoa.  I āta aro te ākonga ki te kaupapa o Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.  Nāna i tātari ko ēhea kupu rangona ai mō ētehi kaupapa, ā, i pēhea te whakamahia, mehemea hoki i piki haere te whakamahia i roto tonu i taua wā (tekau-tau).

Tērā ētehi rangahau o mua nō te tau 2006 me te tau 2001, i ine i te tatau e 6 kupu-whakawhiti-reo kei ia 1000 kupu kōrerorero.  Nui ake tā Katie i kite ai, e 35 kē ngā kupu-whakawhiti-reo kei ia 1000 kupu i roto i āna raraunga nūpepa.  Ko ngā tino kupu whakamahia ai ko te te kupu ‘Māori’ me ‘te reo’ whai ake ko ēnei o te tino tekau kupu: iwi, reo (kāre kau he ‘te’), whānau, marae, kapahaka, Pākehā, Kiwi me te kia ora.

He mea arotake anō e Katie mehemea i whakapākehātia, i whakamāramatia rānei ngā kupu mā te reo Ingarihi kia mārama ai te kaipānui.

“If they are translated we can assume that the author thinks they are not commonly known by the audience. Sometimes words are being  translated where you would not expect them to be. If somebody translates the word ‘iwi’ that is a little bit unusual, as it is quite common. So we can track the authors’ perceptions of what is widely known.”

Ko te kaiarataki o Katie ko Dr Andreea Calude. “Over the decade, it appears we are using more Māori loanwords, and translating fewer of them.  The perception is that the average New Zealander knows more Māori words.”


Hei tā Ahorangi Tūhono Hemi Whaanga o te Pua Wānanga Ki Te Ao, e whakaatu ana tēnei rangahau i te tupu o te māramatanga me te kaha o te hiahia ki te whakarauora i te reo Māori ki ngā tūtanga maha huri noa i Aotearoa.

“This momentum echoes the Government’s goal of 1 million speakers of basic te reo by 2040, the current debate circulating on compulsory te reo Māori in schools, developing quality te reo teachers and the place of Pākehā in the future of the language. This year’s theme, ‘Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’ (Let’s make the Māori language strong), resonates with the aspirations of the activists who petitioned Parliament on September 14 1972, paving the way for us to celebrate te reo Māori as a living language.“

Ko ngā kaupapa i tirohia, i kitea te piki haere o ngā kupu i whakamahia.  Ko te whakamahinga o ‘Maori language week’ i paku piki i roto i te tekau-tau, engari i kaha kē ake te whakamahia o ‘te Wiki o Te Reo Māori’.  E mea ana a Katie kei te whakaatu tēnei kua ū rawa te kīanga ‘Maori language week’ ki roto i te reo Ingarihi o Aotearoa, ā, ka piki hoki te whakamahinga o ‘te wiki o te reo Maori’ i roto i ngā tau, haere ake nei. “It is still often translated into English, but Māori Language Week isn’t usually translated into Māori. So one form is being used way more, while the English version is staying the same.”

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