Powhiri for te reo Māori champions 

At the pōwhiri Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley (left), Professor Meihana Durie, Stacey Morrison, Professor Scotty Morrison and Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas.

Māori broadcaster Scotty Morrison has been appointed as an Associate Professor at Massey University and will take up the role of Professor of te reo Māori in recognition of his outstanding scholarship and leadership in the Māori language over the past 20 years.

Professor Morrison and his wife Stacey have joined the University to help spearhead the development of te reo Māori programmes and they were welcomed with a pōwhiri at the Manawatū campus today.

Professor Morrison, Te Arawaand Mrs Morrison, Ngāi Tahu, Te Arawaare prominent television and radio presenters who have forged impressive careers in the media spanning more than two decades. They have also been closely involved in a number of significant te reo Māori revitalisation initiatives and promoting the growth and capacity of te reo Māori speakers.

The couple will be advising on strategies and innovative teaching techniques for learning te reo Māori in the digital age, tailored to a wide range of real world contexts – from the home and community contexts to the classroom, as well as for business and organisational settings, says Professor Morrison. The focus for effective te reo teaching in the future needs to be on useful, applicable and relevant conversational language so that learners become engaged and motivated from the outset, he says.

A former lecturer at Te Pūtahi-a-Toi and news presenter on Te Karere and Marae Investigates, Professor Morrison says his appointment is “a huge honour” and an opportunity “to help the university move into the future”.

Head of Te Pūtahi-a-Toi Professor Meihana Durie says the couple’s dual appointment is the start of a new phase of advancement for the school. The title of professor recognises Mr Morrison’s substantial commitment and longstanding leadership in te reo and is also recognition of the calibre of those leaders who have mentored him, Professor Durie says. Mr Morrison has published two award winning books on te reo Māori.

Mrs Morrison, a national television presenter, broadcaster and media commentator, joins Te Pūtahi-a-Toi as a te reo Māori consultant and will also support the development of new programmes within the school. She has been teaching te reo Māori in communities for the past 10 years and was awarded the Taura Whiri Reo Champion award in 2016.

“Stacey is astutely attuned and abundantly aware of the aspirations and apprehensions that many whānau and communities share around the acquisition of te reo Māori,” Professor Durie says. “This critical awareness will not only help to inform the advancement of our reo offerings but will also elevate the responsiveness of our kaupapa in relation to evolving dynamics of knowledge acquisition in Aotearoa.”

The couple attended the pōwhiri accompanied by their son, Hawaiki, and daughters Kurawaka and Maiana.

Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas addressed the pōwhiri with a speech partially in te reo Māori. A relatively new and enthusiastic te reo student who has never learned another language before now, she says she wants to demonstrate that; “if I can do it, anyone can do it”.

The future for a Treaty-led university

Professor Thomas said that the appointment of Stacey and Scotty Morrison, and the declaration that the Massey is a Treaty-led university, reflected a “moment in time at Massey University where I think we are on the cusp of something great”.

“This is the future of our country, and Massey University – in taking that bold, brave and sometimes terrifying leap into being a Te Tiriti-led university – is leading the way nationally.”

The pair will be based at Massey’s Auckland campus and will form part of a team of te reo Māori academics in Manawatū and Wellington who will be leading te reo delivery across all three campuses from next year.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley says the appointments “signal Massey University’s commitment to supporting and encouraging te reo in a digital age. It is wonderful to welcome such staff.”

The couple have just published their first co-authored book entitled Māori At Home and will continue their media roles when they start with Massey.

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