Tirohia tēnei whārangi i te reo Māori
About Te Kupenga
Me he kupenga hao ika, koinei te kupenga hao tangata.
Like the ancestors who caught fish to feed and sustain the people, Te Kupenga has gathered information to grow knowledge and inform decision making.
Te Kupenga is Statistics NZ’s first survey of Māori well-being. The survey gives an overall picture of the social, cultural, and economic well-being of Māori in New Zealand. It contains general social and economic well-being measures, and also introduces new measures based on the Māori perspective of well-being.
In measuring Māori cultural well-being, Te Kupenga starts from the key principle of connecting. The value of culture comes from the importance of cultural knowledge, values, and behaviours that allow individuals to connect with each other and their surrounding environments, and the resulting sense of self and belonging. Starting from this principle, Te Kupenga focuses on four areas of cultural well-being:
- wairua (spirituality)
- tikanga (Māori customs and practices)
- te reo Māori (the Māori language)
- whanaungatanga (social connectedness).
It is through these four areas that individuals connect to te ao Māori (the Māori world).
Behaviours involving tikanga, such as marae participation, and modern-day equivalents such as kapa haka or waka ama, are the customs and practices through which individuals connect culturally with each other. Te reo Māori enables individuals to connect through language. Whanaungatanga and wairua are about connecting to the animate and the inanimate worlds, and the nature and strength of those relationships.
Te Kupenga looks at the behaviours, knowledge, and attitudes of Māori towards these four areas. A wide-ranging consultation process with Māori stakeholders informed the content of Te Kupenga.
This is the first release of information from Te Kupenga and provides overview statistics on the four broad areas of Māori cultural well-being outlined above. We will release other data from Te Kupenga over the next year, including a more in-depth report on te reo Māori in July 2014. The sections on te reo Māori ability and usage are based on the population of New Zealand who identify themselves with Māori ethnicity and are aged 15 years and over. This is to maintain comparability with the 2001 Survey on the Health of the Māori Language. All other sections are based on the New Zealand population who identify themselves with Māori ethnicity or Māori descent and are aged 15 years and over.
Most Māori feel involvement in Māori culture is important
To ngākau ki ngā taonga a ō tūpuna, hei tikitiki mō tō māhuna.
Your heart to the treasures of your ancestors for your cultural well-being.
In 2013, 373,000 (70 percent) Māori aged 15+ said it was important (very, quite, or somewhat) for them to be involved in Māori culture. A further 20 percent said it was a little important. Only 10 percent said it was not at all important.
There was no significant age-group difference in the proportions who felt it was important to be involved in Māori culture. However, Māori aged 55+ (29 percent) were more likely than younger Māori to say it was very important.
Māori adults in Northland (82 percent) were more likely to say it was important for them to be involved in Māori culture than Māori in other regions. Those in Canterbury (59 percent) and the rest of the South Island (61 percent) were less likely to state this.
The following sections show the different ways in which Māori connect with Māori culture.
Two-thirds feel spirituality is important
Tō wairua ki te Atua nāna nei ngā mea katoa.
Your spiritual well-being is the source of all things.
Māori have always acknowledged the importance of wairua (spirituality) to their well-being. Through wairua Māori identity is expressed, relationships are built, balance is supported, and the connection between te ao wairua and te ao Māori is maintained. Because the concept of wairua is difficult to measure, Te Kupenga focused on measures of the importance of wairua.
In 2013, 345,500 (66 percent) Māori adults stated spirituality was important (very, quite, or somewhat) in their life. This compared with 18 percent who said this was not at all important.
Māori women were more likely (74 percent) to feel that spirituality was important than Māori men (57 percent).
Less than half say religion is important
Forty-five percent of Māori adults said religion was important (very, quite, or somewhat). This compared with 21 percent who stated it was a little important, and 34 percent who said it was not at all important.
Māori practise tikanga in many ways
Tangata akona ki ngā tikanga, tū ana ki te marae, tau ana.
A person who is taught their culture will stand prepared on the marae.
Māori adults connect and engage with their culture in different ways, with different understandings, and for different purposes. The traditional way of connecting to culture is by knowing your iwi, hapū, and marae, and belonging to and visiting your ancestral marae and other traditional places. A more contemporary sense of belonging and connectedness also exists; for example, by attending language classes, being involved in kapa haka, or watching Māori television.
Most Māori know their iwi
In 2013, 89 percent of Māori adults said they knew their iwi (tribe) – the most common aspect of their Māori tribal identity or pepeha they knew. In addition:
- 71 percent (371,000) knew their marae tipuna (ancestral marae)
- 58 percent knew their maunga (mountain)
- 56 percent knew their awa, moana (river or water)
- 55 percent knew their hapū (subtribe)
- 55 percent knew their tipuna, tupuna (ancestor)
- 52 percent knew their waka (canoe).
Over one-third (39 percent) of Māori adults knew all these aspects of their pepeha. Only 9 percent of Māori adults knew none of these.
Older Māori (55+) were more likely to know aspects of their pepeha than younger Māori. Some 49 percent of Māori aged 55+ reported knowing all aspects, compared with 28 percent for those aged 15–24 and 39 percent for those aged 25–34.
Māori connect strongly to their tūrangawaewae
Of the 371,000 Māori adults who knew their ancestral marae, 77 percent thought of it as their tūrangawaewae (place of belonging). This equates to just over half (54 percent) of all Māori adults.
Thirty-six percent of Māori adults said they felt strongly or very strongly connected to their tūrangawaewae, while 12 percent felt somewhat connected. Of those who thought of their ancestral marae as their tūrangawaewae, two-thirds felt strongly or very strongly connected to this.
Older Māori (55+) were more likely than younger Māori to have an ancestral marae they thought of as their tūrangawaewae. They were also more likely to feel strongly or very strongly connected to it than younger Māori. Just under half (49 percent) of all Māori aged 55+ felt strongly or very strongly connected, compared with 25 percent of Māori aged 15–24 and 31 percent of those aged 25–34.
Most visit their marae at some time
Of the 371,000 Māori adults who said they knew their ancestral marae, 89 percent had been there at some point in their life. This includes 48 percent who said they had done so in the previous 12 months. Of all Māori adults (both those who knew their ancestral marae and those who did not), 62 percent had been to their ancestral marae, including 34 percent who had done so in the last 12 months.
Of the Māori adults who knew their ancestral marae, 59 percent said they would like to have gone to this marae, or gone more often.
Cost was the main barrier reported for not visiting an ancestral marae. Three-quarters of Māori adults who would like to have gone, or gone more often, reported they did not have enough money to do so. Other common barriers were lack of time (55 percent) and no invitation or occasion to go (39 percent).
Almost all Māori adults (96 percent) had been to a marae at some time and 56 percent said they had done so in the previous 12 months.
Māori engage in modern cultural practices
The most commonly reported modern cultural activity that Māori adults engaged in was watching a Māori television programme. In 2013, 396,500 (75 percent) said they had done so in the last 12 months. The other most common ways Māori adults expressed their identity were by discussing or exploring their whakapapa or family history (60 percent), and by singing a Māori song, performing a haka, giving a mihi or speech, or taking part in Māori performing arts or crafts (56 percent).
Other forms of cultural expressions included:
- wearing Māori jewellery, such as pounamu or tiki (49 percent)
- teaching or sharing Māori culture with others (46 percent)
- contacting Māori through a social networking site, such as Facebook or Twitter (44 percent)
- going to a hui (39 percent)
- going to a Māori festival or event such as Pā wars, Matariki, or Waitangi Day celebrations (37 percent)
- wearing Māori-branded clothing, such as an iwi t-shirt (35 percent)
- listening to a Māori radio station (34 percent)
- learning about Māori culture at a library, museum, or Māori website (27 percent)
- reading a Māori magazine, such as Mana or Tū Mai (25 percent)
- doing something else that involved learning the Māori language or culture (25 percent)
- taking part in traditional Māori healing or massage (11 percent).
Māori women were more likely to have been involved in modern Māori cultural practices than Māori men. The largest differences by sex were wearing Māori jewellery (57 percent and 40 percent, respectively), and having contact with other Māori through social media (48 percent and 39 percent, respectively).
Activities that younger Māori (15–24) were more likely than older Māori (55+) to participate in included contact with other Māori through social media (54 percent and 22 percent), and singing a Māori song, performing a haka, giving a mihi or speech, or taking part in Māori performing arts or crafts (60 percent and 49 percent, respectively).
Using te reo Māori
Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.
The language is the life force of Māori identity.
Speaking te reo Māori is an active way of connecting to culture and the language. For more than 20 years now, encouraging the use of te reo Māori has been the focus of many government and community initiatives.
Te Kupenga used some questions from Te Puni Kōkiri’s 2001 post-census Survey on the Health of the Māori Language (HMLS), to increase comparability between the two survey periods. While both surveys have similar methodologies, other administrative differences between the two data sources are likely to have influenced time-series results. For this reason, please be careful when comparing data between Te Kupenga and the earlier HMLS.
See data quality for more information on comparing datasets.
Over half of Māori have some te reo Māori speaking ability
In 2013, an estimated 257,500 (55 percent) Māori aged 15+ self-reported that they had some ability to speak te reo Māori; that is, they could speak more than a few words or phrases in the language. Overall, 50,000 (11 percent) could speak te reo Māori ‘very well’ or ‘well’ and 44 percent could speak ‘fairly well’ or ‘not very well’. The remaining 45 percent could speak ‘no more than a few words or phrases’.
In comparison, the 2001 HMLS found that 153,500 (42 percent) Māori adults reported some ability to speak te reo Māori. Between 2001 and 2013, most of the increase in the proportion who said they spoke te reo Māori was for those reporting they spoke ‘not very well’. The proportions reporting they spoke very well, well, or fairly well remained relatively unchanged.
The census also collects information on people who can speak te reo Māori. The census showed that between 2001 and 2013, the proportion of Māori adults who reported they could hold an everyday conversation in the Māori language decreased from 28 percent to 24 percent.
Survey differences make direct comparisons difficult (see data quality). However, it is likely that this census rate approximates those in Te Kupenga who said they could speak te reo Māori very well, well, or fairly well – which increased from 20 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2013.
Increase in younger Māori with some speaking ability
Historically, a greater proportion of older than younger Māori adults have te reo Māori speaking ability. As a result, in the last 20+ years many initiatives have been targeted at younger Māori (eg Te Kōhanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori).
Between 2001 and 2013 there was a large increase in the proportion of younger Māori (15–44) who reported some ability to speak te reo Māori. In comparison, the proportion for Māori aged 55+ remained unchanged.
As a result of the increase, Te Kupenga showed that in 2013, there were similar proportions of Māori reporting some te reo Māori speaking ability in all age groups.
Older Māori more likely to speak te reo well or very well than younger Māori
In 2013, 17 percent of Māori aged 55+ said they could speak te reo Māori well or very well. This was down from 29 percent in 2001.
For younger age groups the proportion was between 8 and 11 percent, unchanged from 2001.
Older Māori were also more likely to have learnt te reo Māori as their first language; that is, the one first learnt as a child and still understood. Fifteen percent of Māori aged 55+ learnt te reo Māori as their first language, compared with 8 percent of Māori aged 15–34.
Just 4 percent of Māori aged 35–44 and 6 percent of those aged 45–54 said they learnt te reo Māori as their first language.
|Number of Māori adults who speak te reo Māori
By age group and level of proficiency
2001 and 2013
Age groups (years)
||Not very well
||No more than a few words or phrases
Māori women more likely to speak te reo Māori
Nearly 3 out of 5 (58 percent) Māori women had some te reo Māori speaking skills. This included 12 percent who could speak Māori very well or well, and 46 percent who spoke fairly well or not very well. For Māori men these figures were 9 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
The sex difference in the proportion that spoke te reo Māori well or very well was greatest among younger age groups. At ages 15–24 and 25–34, women were considerably more likely than men to speak te reo Māori well or very well. For Māori aged 55+ a higher proportion of men than women spoke well or very well (18 percent compared with 16 percent).
Te reo Māori used in a variety of settings
A key focus of initiatives to improve the health of te reo Māori is its use in Māori homes and communities.
In 2013, 164,500 (35 percent) Māori adults reported speaking some te reo Māori within the home. This equates to 64 percent of Māori adults who said they could speak more than a few words or phrases of te reo Māori. There were 36,000 (8 percent) Māori adults who said they spoke at least the same amount of te reo Māori as English to someone in their home.
Te reo Māori most commonly spoken to children in the home
Māori adults who could speak more than a few words or phrases of te reo Māori were most likely to speak it to their own children at home, particularly pre-school and primary school-aged children.
Over 80 percent of Māori adults living with pre-school children spoke some te reo Māori to them, including 18 percent who spoke to them in te reo Māori half or more of the time.
The amount of Māori spoken within households was fairly consistent with 2001 results.
|Amount of te reo Māori spoken in the home
By person spoken to
Who spoken to
| All / mostly Māori
||Māori equally with English
|| Some Māori
|| No Māori
| Pre-school children
| Primary school children
| Secondary school children
Speaking te reo Māori outside the home decreases
Between 2001 and 2013, the proportion of Māori speaking all or mostly te reo Māori decreased across all activities outside the home.
In the context of meetings or hui, the proportion of Māori speaking all or mostly te reo Māori fell from 22 percent in 2001 to 11 percent in 2013; for helping at school it fell from 19 percent to 12 percent.
Speaking te reo Māori outside the home was most common when attending club or interest groups (such as kapahaka), while helping at school, and when attending meetings or hui.
|Amount of te reo Māori spoken outside the home
| All / mostly Māori
|| Māori equally with English
|| Some Māori
| Visiting relatives/friends
| Helping at school
| Religious activities
| Club or interest group
Majority think their whānau is doing well
E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tō ao.
Grow up and thrive for the days destined to you.
The whānau unit is the fundamental building block of Māori society and a key source of Māori well-being and connectedness. Given significant whānau networks exist outside the immediate household, information on whānau gives an alternative to the more traditional measures based on the household. However, we expect that these new whānau well-being measures will complement existing measures and enrich the picture of whānau well-being.
In 2013, most (83 percent) Māori adults said their whānau was doing well or extremely well. This was true across all age groups. Just 7 percent of Māori adults reported their whānau was doing badly or extremely badly.
Māori aged 55+ (17 percent) were the most likely to state they thought their whānau was doing extremely well. This compared with 13 percent for Māori aged 15–24 years, 11 percent for those aged 45–54, 8 percent for those aged 35–44, and 7 percent for those aged 25–34.
Majority of whānau get along well with one another
In 2013, 84 percent of Māori said their whānau got along ‘well’ or ‘very well’. Only 3 percent of Māori said their whānau got along ‘badly’ or ‘very badly’.
Māori connect strongly with whānau
In 2013, 435,000 (84 percent) Māori adults had face-to-face contact with whānau they didn’t live with at least once in the last four weeks. The frequency varied, but 55 percent had contact with whānau at least once in the last week.
Non-face-to-face contact was even more common. There were 489,500 (94 percent) Māori who had this contact with whānau who didn’t live with them at least once in the last four weeks. This included 72 percent who had non-face-to-face contact at least once in the last week.
Māori women were slightly more likely to have any type of contact with whānau not living with them than Māori men. The proportion of Māori women having face-to-face contact with whānau in the last four weeks was 86 percent, compared with 82 percent for Māori men.
A third of Māori adults want more contact with whānau
6 out of 10 (63 percent) Māori said they had about the right amount of contact with whānau that didn’t live with them; 34 percent said they didn’t have enough contact with whānau, and just 2 percent said they had too much.
Most Māori adults able to access cultural support
Two-thirds (64 percent) of Māori adults said it would be ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to find someone to help them with Māori cultural practices, such as going to a tangi, speaking at a hui, or blessing a taonga. A further 15 percent said it would be ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ to access cultural support and 4 percent said they did not need help with such things.
Māori aged 15–24 years (17 percent) were more likely to find it hard or very hard to get help with Māori cultural practices than those aged 55+ (12 percent). Also, older Māori were more likely than younger Māori to not need help for cultural practices.
Of the Māori adults who said they would need help with some Māori cultural practices, 59 percent had not asked for such help in the last 12 months; 15 percent asked for help just once in the last 12 months; and 26 percent asked twice or more.
Wide diversity in how Māori describe their whānau
Half of all Māori adults said their whānau consisted of fewer than 11 people. A small proportion of Māori stated they had a relatively large whānau – 11 percent said their whānau consisted of 41 or more people and 5 percent said it consisted of 61 or more people.
Most Māori define their whānau by whakapapa. Almost all Māori (95 percent) stated that their parents, partner, children, and brothers and sisters were part of their whānau. Two-fifths of Māori included aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, and in-laws in their whānau.
One in eight Māori (12 percent) said their whānau included friends or others. Of this group, less than 5 percent stated they had a whānau that was mostly friends.
Almost all Māori (98 percent) said their whānau included people who did not live with them.
On average, older Māori reported larger whānau. Half of all Māori aged 55+ said their whānau consisted of 15 or fewer people, compared with 8 or fewer for Māori aged 15–24. Older Māori (55+) were less likely to include their parents, partner, children, and brothers and sisters in their whānau, but more likely to include friends and others than younger Māori were.
Māori living in regions with a higher proportion of Māori in the population – such as Northland, Bay of Plenty, and Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay, were more likely to have a larger whānau and more likely to include friends and others in that whānau than Māori in other regions.
For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.