Ma toku reo e kia ai he Maori ahau? Aaron Koopu of Tokoroa is passionate about the use of te Reo Maori and the identity it creates. This passion is reflected in Aaron’s thesis research, for which he recently won the Learning Media te Pou Taki Korero Scholarship for Academic Writing in te Reo Maori.
The $10,000 scholarship will support Aaron to complete his Master thesis entitled Ma toku reo e kia ai he Maori ahau? Creating an identity through the acquisition of te Reo Maori. The scholarship also involves a short internship with He Wakakorero (Learning Media’s Maori publishing team)
This research stems from the discussion surrounding the characteristics of Maori identity. Central to this discussion is the notion that the acquisition of te Reo Maori is the ultimate criterion to be accepted and even regarded as being ‘genuinely’ Maori.
The overarching aim of this study is to investigate the influence of identity on one’s decision and determination to acquire a language as a second-language learner. The prevailing belief that identity is a pre-determining factor in the acquisition of te Reo Maori by second-language learners, but also acknowledges that there are other underpinning aspects that motivate language learners.
Aaron grew up in the “small but encouraging community of Tokoroa, where I came to appreciate the support and nurturing of our rangatahi by the wider community.” In 2005 the Raukawa Trust Board gave Aaron the opportunity to be part of a Young Leaders programme. This ignited his passion for education, te Reo Maori, kapa haka and promoting Maori culture in the community.
His future plans include returning to Tokoroa and working for the educational department of the Raukawa Trust Board. “I look forward to the day when I am able to work with rangatahi within the South Waikato in their endeavours, so that the legacy of support remains strong for future generations.”
Professor Linda Smith from the University of Waikato commented
We are delighted that Learning Media has partnered with us to provide this pioneering scholarship for graduate writing and research in te Reo Maori. The added dimension of the internship will give Aaron valuable experience in the corporate and publishing worlds, and this will be a great complement to his research endeavours.”
David Glover, Chief Executive of Learning Media, added? “Aaron is working on a topic of potentially great interest to Maoridom and New Zealand as a whole. We are delighted to support such original research. He is an intelligent and humble man, but also shows all the signs of being a future leader.”