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Impact of Whakaata Māori on the revitalisation of
te reo Māori


Policy Development and Evaluation 



Winner of the Social and Community category at the 2018 NZ Research Association Effectiveness awards

Māori Television set out to measure its impact on the revitalisation of the Māori language (te reo Māori) in New Zealand, in the face of growing political pressure to demonstrate the Government’s return on investment and funders questioning the value of financing Māori Television’s receptive programming.

This meant separating out how much of Māori language revitalisation in New Zealand can be attributed to Māori Television, versus the multitude of other factors that drive use of te reo. A complex task to say the least. And something no other indigenous broadcaster in the world had managed to do.

Verian, formerly Kantar Public, undertook a multi-stage, multi-method research project with both Māori and non-Māori. A highly innovative and integrated approach was taken in capturing international learnings, engaging with stakeholders, and conducting primary research including the use of advanced statistical modelling.

Key findings were that 11% of the increase in language ability among all Māori 15+ is attributed to Māori Television. Likewise, 30% of the increase in understanding Māori culture and receptivity towards te reo among non-Māori viewers is attributed to Māori Television.

The research proved highly effective in changing Māori Television’s narrative of their role and effectiveness in taking people on the te reo journey. This has been evident in many high level stakeholder engagements across Government including at a Ministerial level, with officials and in reporting to Parliament. Following the research, Māori Television not only retained ‘at risk’ receptive programme funding but received an increase for the subsequent year. Māori Television’s new level of funding for receptive programming represented its highest ever amount.

Judges’ citation: “They said it couldn’t be done. But faced with growing pressure to prove their contribution to this specific topic, the winner proved everyone wrong and did something that no one has achieved before, anywhere in the world. A carefully designed, multi-stage, multi-method, best-in-class research approach, including a smart statistical model, delivered the proof that this New Zealand organisation made a vital contribution to society. It not only secured the funding needed to continue its work, it is now also seen as a blueprint for similar studies in other parts of the world.”

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