9 December 2014
(Origianlly published at
Being a guardian of Te Reo Māori is in the blood for University of Waikato Masters student Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes.
“My Koro (grandfather) campaigned for Te Reo, as did my father. My mother, who is Pakeha, also speaks Te Reo Māori. I was born in it, raised in it and moulded by it. My research is an extension of that.”
Of Ngāti Porou and Te Arawa descent, Te Kuru is one of five Master of Science students from the University of Waikato to be awarded a $12,000 Research Institute Scholarship. He is undertaking his research with the University’s Te Kotahi Research Institute, which is designed to support, develop and promote research for and with iwi/Māori.
Te Kuru’s believes his research, which focuses primarily on intergenerational language transmission within Māori families, will provide a valuable insight into Māori language patterns between family members. It is a case study looking specifically at language use within a particular extended family ‘Te Whānau a Te Kapunga’ (the descendants of Te Kapunga).
The 24-year-old grew up in a bilingual home and considers Te Reo Māori his first language.
“Ahakoa ngā kaupapa whakarauora reo, kei te memeha tonu. Ko te ia o tēnei rangahau he ketuketu, he hurahura i ngā āhuatanga e tutuki ai te tukuihotanga o te reo. (Unfortunately, in spite of the efforts to revitalise the te reo Māori, it is still very much an endangered language. The principal focus of this investigation is to highlight what Māori language practices may be used in order to secure its transmission between generations.)”
From Rotorua, Te Kuru attended Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata and Western Heights High School. He says the Research Institute Scholarship will give him more flexibility in terms of the research methods that he’ll put in place and also help alleviate some of the financial pressures of postgraduate study.
“It’s not common for researchers of this topic to gain such intimate access for observations. I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to be in a position where the family supports and is involved in what I’m doing.”
Te Kuru has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Te Reo Māori and Tikanga, also from Waikato. He is now finishing his first year of a Master of Arts in the School of Māori and Pacific Development, which he says has been a great support throughout his study and has “helped cultivate my thoughts throughout my academic journey”.