The impact on te reo Māori of trans-Tasman migration

84 Pages Posted: 18 May 2022

See all articles by Paul Hamer

Paul Hamer

Te Kawa a Māui/School of Māori Studies, VUW

Date Written: July 2010


The Māori population in Australia has grown enormously since the 1970s, to the
extent that now approximately one in six Māori live across the Tasman. During that
same period there has been a concerted official and community effort to revitalise te
reo Māori in New Zealand. While it is difficult to gauge the extent of the impact on
te reo in New Zealand of this migration, census data show that many thousands of
speakers of te reo have moved to Australia since the 1980s. This fact is routinely
overlooked in assessments of the language’s health in New Zealand. Qualitative data
also suggest that the loss of students and teachers of te reo from Māori immersion,
bilingual and as‐a‐subject settings is a relatively common occurrence. In Australia
itself, however, te reo faces major obstacles to successful maintenance and
intergenerational transmission, and in fact the language suffers one of the highest
rates of ‘shift’ of any Australian community language. That said, many Māori in
Australia have high levels of motivation to learn their language, and commitment to
te reo is likely to be a small but contributing factor to Māori return migration to New

Keywords: Māori, te reo Māori, Māori language, migration, Australia, New Zealand

Suggested Citation

Hamer, Paul, The impact on te reo Māori of trans-Tasman migration (July 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Paul Hamer (Contact Author)

Te Kawa a Māui/School of Māori Studies, VUW ( email )

P.O. Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics