Mā tōku reo e kīa ai he Māori ahau? Aaron Koopu of Tokoroa is passionate about the use of Te Reo Māori 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 Kōrero Scholarship for Academic Writing in Te Reo Māori.
The $10,000 scholarship will support Aaron to complete his Master thesis entitled Mā tōku reo e kīa ai he Māori ahau? Creating an identity through the acquisition of Te Reo Māori. The scholarship also involves a short internship with He Wakakōrero (Learning Media’s Māori publishing team)
This research stems from the discussion surrounding the characteristics of Māori identity. Central to this discussion is the notion that the acquisition of Te Reo Māori is the ultimate criterion to be accepted and even regarded as being ‘genuinely’ Māori.
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 Māori 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 Māori, kapa haka and promoting Māori 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 Māori. 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 Māoridom 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.”
Source: Press release: Learning Media