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Data sources for te reo Māori speakers

Statistics NZ produced three data sources that provide statistics on te reo Māori speakers. This chapter outlines these data sources and presents the objectives and scope for each, as well as briefly introducing two non-Statistics NZ data sources.

Data sources from Statistics NZ

Census

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is the official count of all people and dwellings in New Zealand. It provides a snapshot of our society at a point in time. It also tells the story of social and economic change in New Zealand. Since 1881, Statistics NZ has conducted the census every five years, with only four exceptions.

Since 1996, the census has asked New Zealanders: “In which languages could you have a conversation about a lot of everyday things?” of which Māori is one response option.

In December 2013, 2013 Census QuickStats about Māori presented facts about Māori across a range of census topics, including speakers of te reo Māori.

Te Kupenga

In 2013, we carried out Te Kupenga, our first survey of Māori well-being. Te Kupenga collected information from 5,500 Māori on a wide range of topics to give an overall picture of the social, cultural, and economic well-being of Māori in New Zealand. The survey included questions about respondents’ ability to speak, listen, read, and write in te reo Māori and the environments in which they used the language.

We conducted Te Kupenga as a post-censal survey between June and August 2013. The target population was respondents to the 2013 Census who were aged 15 years and over (15+) and of Māori descent or who identified with the Māori ethnic group.

2001 Survey on the Health of the Māori Language

The 2001 Survey on the Health of the Māori Language (HMLS) asked almost 5,000 Māori about their ability to speak, listen, read, and write in te reo Māori. The survey also asked respondents about the environments in which they used the Māori language, and participation in education and revitalisation activities.

We conducted the 2001 HMLS as a post-censal survey in May and June 2001. The target population was respondents to the 2001 Census aged 15+ who identified with the Māori ethnic group.

Data sources from other agencies

2006 Health of the Māori Language Survey

The 2006 Health of the Māori Language Survey was commissioned by Te Puni Kōkiri and undertaken by Research New Zealand. The sample frame for this survey was very different from Te Kupenga 2013 and the 2001 HMLS (both post-censal surveys), because Research NZ did not have access to 2006 Census data to draw a sample from. Te Puni Kōkiri has now advised data users to exercise caution when interpreting results from the 2006 survey, due to limitations in the survey design (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2008). As a result, we will exclude further discussion of this survey from this paper.

Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey

New Zealand participated in the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL) in 2006. ALL measured the prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills of a representative sample of respondents from participating countries aged 16–65 years. This included collecting data on first language learnt and still spoken, including te reo Māori. We will not include details of this survey in this paper.

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