Three Te Tumu staff, Pai Taani, Dr Telesia Kalavite and Associate Professor Karyn Paringatai, have been awarded University of Otago Research Grants (UORGs) that will allow them to undertake or further research projects.
The title of Paia Taani’s research project is “I ahatia taku reo Māori? Tracking intergenerational transmission of te reo Māori within whānau”. She says, “my own experiences of learning te reo Māori as a second language and raising my own children with the language sparked my interest to investigate what happened to my language. This research project will therefore investigate the intergenerational transmission of te reo Māori within my whānau.”
Paia’s aim is to is to contribute to the existing research and literature about the use of te reo Māori within the context of whānau. Her research includes analysing whānau narratives to examine the historical intergenerational transmission of te reo Māori and will highlight critical moments within these narratives to explore the factors which affected language transmission within her whānau. The key themes emerging from these accounts will inform future language pathways for her whānau, and may also be used to generate recommendations to offer other whānau who may be seeking to reclaim their language.
The University of Otago Research Grant will help fund travel to the North Island to undertake hui and kōrero with participants, and will also fund a research assistant to undertake transcription work.
Paia expects that she will publish at least two journal articles from her research project, and she will one conference presentation. Another expected output of this research project is a hui with her participants where she will disseminate her findings and discuss ways to move forward with future research and support for whānau wanting to reclaim their language.
Telesia Kalavite’s research project explores “The implications of changing cultural practices in Tongan wedding celebrations in New Zealand”, and how these changes impact on Tongan people’s lives in New Zealand. This project has national and international significance in understanding the development of Tongan culture and identity in the diaspora as well as the myriad cultural, social, economic, political and environmental impacts that are encompassed in Tongan wedding celebrations. It will identify and map out traditional cultural practices in Tongan weddings over time and space. This will provide a context in which to explore contemporary factors affecting Tongan wedding practices in Aotearoa.
Telesia sees this as a pilot study for a larger project in the future on how Tongan celebrations impact on Tongan people’s socio-cultural and economic development in Aotearoa New Zealand. She says “I am a Tongan researcher, and it is very important that to get this kind of research righ; there should be people with clear expertise and connection to it, like myself.”
Karyn Paringatai is collaborating with Marcelle Wharerau, formerly a Te Tumu student and staff member who is now an academic based at the Tauranga campus of Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao – Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies, University of Waikato. Their project is titled “Te Aho Tāngaengae: Māmā, Wahine, Māori, Academic”. Socio-economic stability through intergenerational mobility is a priority of whānau Māori; ensuring that future generations have full access to a range of resources that enhances intergenerational whānau wellbeing. Income, education and occupation feature predominantly in intergenerational mobility studies as primary indicators of social and economic status. However, this focus is too narrow and neglects the importance of also embedding cultural stability and responsibility. Whilst socio-economic stability and upward mobility is a priority of Māori, equally important is the intergenerational transmission of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.
Colonisation has had profound negative effects on all aspects of te ao Māori, including maintaining intergenerational responsibilities for protecting and enhancing the mana of whānau, hapū and iwi. In this unique research, Karyn and Marcelle aim to show how the reestablishment of this intergenerational responsibility to contribute to the decolonisation of te ao Māori must be a deliberate priority and why it is of urgency to do so.
Te Aho Tāngaengae gives voice to the narratives of wāhine Māori academics who are first in family to complete higher education/university and the mechanisms they employ in the intergenerational transmission of cultural capital. Increasing the capacity, and linguistic and cultural capabilities of Māori across generations who can tangibly contribute to improving the social, economic and political wellbeing of te ao Māori must be a priority. This research is important to reveal new insights into the methods used that have the potential to accelerate transformative change within whānau for generations to come.
Featuring Malia Lameta & Te Ao Marama Tawhara. Six Te Tumu Masters-level students are graduating next week, with either Master of Arts, or Master of Indigenous Studies, showcasing our research strengths in the fields of Māori Studies, Pacific Island Studies, and Indigenous Development. Two are featured in today’s blog post, with more profiles forthcoming.
MA (Pacific Island Studies) supervised by Professor Michael Reilly and Dr Michelle Schaaf.
“I Am The Apple Of My Brother’s Eye” : An investigation into the evolving roles of Samoan women with particular reference to religion and gender relations.
Abstract: What does it mean to be a Samoan woman? The following thesis addresses this question by exploring the lived experiences of Samoan women with particular reference to religion and gender relations. Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach, it sheds light on the tenacity of socio-cultural and political factors that influence women’s roles and status. In particular, this research explores how Samoan women navigate the differing and often contradicting worlds of culture, Christianity, family, education, politics and gender. Information for this research was obtained through a series of interviews and literature analysis of primary and secondary sources. It has been the aim of this thesis to prove, not only to myself, but to those with a background and understanding similar to my own, that we, as women, are not inferior within Samoan culture. The participants’ words have been integrated throughout this thesis from Chapter One so as to emphasise and give strength to the voice of Samoan women. This thesis is centred on the inspiration and aspiration of these women and as a result, their testimonies have been brought alongside the literature as opposed to being supplementary. Women’s roles as sisters, wives and daughters are explored and the question is posed whether their cultural importance and status has been diminished by the influence of Christianity. From the evolution of women’s roles, to the changing meanings of the feagaiga, from the arrival of Christianity to the present day, women within Samoan society play a role that is imperative to the proper function of families, villages, districts and nation. The arrival of Christianity has not stripped us of our traditional importance but has increased and expanded our roles. We, Samoan women, are not oppressed, we are not suppressed; we have a voice, a place and dreams.
MA (Māori Studies) supervised by Dr Matiu Rātima & Associate Professor Poia Rewi.
Kia Māori te reo Māori? An investigation of adult learner attitudes towards the impact of English on te reo Māori
Abstract: This study sought to answer the following questions: What impact does the English language have on te reo Māori (the Māori language)? What attitudes do adult language learners have towards the impact of English on te reo? And what implications do these attitudes have for the revitalisation of te reo Māori? Engaging in in-depth semi-structured interviews with eight former University of Otago Māori language students from Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous studies (Te Tumu) forms a necessary part of this research project. Following Braun and Clarke (2008), the data gathered from the interviews was examined using Thematic Data Analysis.
The fundamental aim of this thesis is to explore and describe adult learner attitudes towards the impact of English on te reo Māori, so as to gain insight into how active language learners within Te Tumu perceive the influence of the English language. The thesis has two key foci, the first is parts of language, such as transliteration, code switching, pronunciation, grammar and idiom. The second is the impact of English within the context of teaching and learning.
On the one hand, this study shows that the participants view the impact of English as a form of contamination that is having a negative effect on Māori cultural concepts because there is less use of authentic Māori words and phrases, which in turn dilutes and minimises the representation and understanding of a Māori epistemological world view. On the other hand, some participants identified specific times when English language usage could be helpful to their developing proficiency in te reo Māori. The findings yield that there are certain exceptions such as the use of transliterations and code switching as being a necessary tool for scaffolding learning of te reo Māori particularly during the early stages of learning. The use of transliteration as a form of humour was also seen as acceptable. However, the main concern among the cohort was the maintenance of the authentic use of te reo Māori, more specifically, Māori lexicon, grammar, pronunciation, and idiom. Furthermore, the participants felt strongly about certain aspects of teaching and learning within Te Tumu that privilege Pākehā teaching methods such as the grammar translation method and a lack of attention to tikanga Māori (Māori culture) and Māori centred pedagogies. The findings from this study show definitively that the participants feel that the language is in a state of contamination, on the other hand they are also concerned that there are times where transliteration and code switching can be necessary, even useful.
 See http://www.otago.ac.nz/tetumu/ for further information about the University of Otago department of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous studies.
 By Pākehā methods of teaching I am referring to the pedagogical teaching practices that favour the use of the English language.