This research project’s origins date back 22 years when Dr Joe Te Rito helped establish local Māori radio station Radio Kahungunu in Hastings. Joe saw how the dialect of his iwi Rongomaiwahine-Ngāti Kahungunu was diminishing in quality, in terms of grammatical and spoken fluency, with each generation. The station was to fill the gap for children who did not have Māori spoken in the home or role models to learn te reo from. While schools looked after education, the station wanted to bring the voices into the home.
The idea of a Māori language radio station was new at the time. Local elders hosted various shows, which the station had the foresight to record, and today there are more than 2000 archival recordings. Initially, recording was just to preserve the voices, but the archive would turn into the basis of Joe’s research. Since then, while the number of people learning Māori has increased, Joe argues the quality has declined further. The richness of the previous generations’ language has been watered down and euphony and idioms have been lost. It is important to preserve a language’s quality, because a culture’s world view is expressed through its language – if a language loses its quality, it loses its full potential.
View the brief summary documentary on the research project.