Phoebe Leonard | McCall MacBain Foundation Kupe Leadership Scholar

Master of Arts (Māori Studies)

The one-size-fits-all traditional Eurocentric grammar system that has been imposed on te reo Māori since the early 19th century poses a near insurmountable barrier to learners; it is an arbitrary system and notoriously difficult to learn. To ensure we are revitalising the reo rangatira tūturu spoken by our tūpuna and not merely a colonised shadow language we must decolonise our current grammar.

My Masters thesis takes as its central hypothesis Māori Marsden’s claim that the Māori worldview is reflected in the structure of Māori thought and expressed in the structure of Māori language, exploring in depth the idea that fundamental Māori cosmological truths and beliefs are directly encoded into the grammatical structure of te reo. The findings of this research will provide the preliminary framework upon which a unified, holistic, gestalt, transformative theory of te reo can begin to be built.

Sponsor: McCall MacBain Foundation

Mentor: Stacey Morrison, radio and TV broadcaster, author, champion of Te Reo Maori