Debbie Thompson

Debbie Thompson staff profile picture

School of Humanities
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
He aha tō tātou kaupapa? Motivational factors among non-Māori learners of te reo Māori

Research Description
Non-Māori are evermore eager to learn the Māori language, with courses oversubscribing across the nation, it is important know why. This project will involve case studies of Pākehā/Tauiwi New Zealanders who are advancing on the journey of learning te reo Māori. The aim is to uncover the values and principles which underly their motivational drive and help their reo skills to flourish. The study will draw from motivation research from Second Language Acquisition literature and apply it through the lens of 'kaupapa' - the principles which ground a persons actions. I will find out the lifetime of experiences and beliefs which influenced each learner's perspective on te reo Māori such that they chose to learn it and have stayed committed to learning it. Insight from the study will be of use to language policy makers and teachers to inspire planning and pedagogy in contexts with diverse learners.

Research Importance
This study will contribute to conversations about Māori language revitalisation regarding the function of Pākehā/Tauiwi involvement as learners and advocates of te reo. It can shed light on the values which beg widespread cultivation in order for openness towards indigenous language and culture to continue to grow.

Personal Description
I grew up in Manawatū. I began to learn te reo Māori in 2015 after a long stay in Spain, but a master's degree beginning that same year at Oxford University took me away from the best opportunities to learn the language well. In February 2017 I finally returned for good and have been taking reo classes at the Ohakea Airforce base marae since then. Before I undertook my master's dissertation I knew I would come back to study a topic like this, so I made sure to investigate learner motivation. I enjoyed Oxford's intense immersion in scholarly literature.

Dr Arianna Berardi-Wiltshire
Dr Ute Walker

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