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Fewer Maori speaking te reo Māori

May 21st, 2014 | By | Category: Diversity, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

ONLY 125,352 Maori people who live in New Zealand can actually speak te reo Māori, according to the 2013 census.

The latest census shows that there are around 588,000 Maori living in New Zealand.

In 2006, the census showed that there were 131,613 Maori speaking the language.

This means there has been a decrease of approximately 6000 Maori speakers.

The census says that to speak the language, someone should be able to hold a conversation about a lot of everyday things in te reo Māori.

Gareth Seymour, Senior Communications and Promotions Adviser for the Māori Language Commission, says there could be several reasons for the decrease which are not revealed through the census.

He says that the reasons could include but are not limited to people moving overseas, fewer enrolments in Māori language institutes, and Māori speakers being isolated from other te reo speakers and not having enough places to be able to speak the language.

The amount of Maori who could speak te reo Māori remained at 25% of the Maori population speaking te reo Māori in both the 1996 census and 2001 census.

In 2006 the percentage had dropped to 23.7% and the recent figures mean that now only 21.3% of the Maori population can speak te reo Māori.

graph for maori stats

This means that there has been a 4.8% decrease in speakers over a seven year period.

Mr Seymour says that the future of the language could depend on the response by the Maori people and the New Zealand people to the statistics.

The Māori Language Commission is trying to do what they can to bring back the language, including promotions and advertising.

“It’s a bit of a wakeup call…there is more work to do. We’ve got a long way to go,” Mr Seymour says.

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