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Choosing between data sources

This chapter explains which data source is the best to understand the health of the Māori language.

Note that data users should exercise caution when evaluating the health of the Māori language based on one data source alone.

Te Kupenga provides the most-detailed information about te reo Māori in 2013

The 2001 HMLS and Te Kupenga provide a fuller picture of Māori language proficiency among Māori adults than the census. They also use more in-depth and wide-ranging questions.

The post-censal surveys look across measures such as speaking proficiency, language use inside and outside the home, language acquisition, and other language skills, such as reading and writing.

But these surveys should not be treated as a time series. This is because methodology differences make direct comparison difficult. But also two data points should not be considered a time series or trend.

We advise that Te Kupenga is the best survey to give the full picture of the health of the Māori language in 2013.

The census produces the most-reliable time series

The census provides information about the number of people who report they can have a conversation about everyday things in Māori.

However, the challenge with using census data is its lack of definition about what an everyday conversation in Māori means.

Even so, in terms of a time series, census data is the best source. 2013 Census data is fully comparable with 2006 and 2001 Census data. No changes in the way the data has been collected, defined, and classified have occurred over this time period. 2001 and 2013 Census data is also highly comparable with 1996 Census data, because we have made limited changes.

The population coverage of the census makes it more robust than Te Kupenga when looking at small geographic areas and for small population groups – such as smaller iwi groups.

We advise that the census is best used to give a time series about the number of speakers of day-to-day conversational Māori. However, the census is not clear what day-to-day conversational Māori means.

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