Understanding languaculture from an indigenous Māori worldview


  • Mere Berryman University of Waikato
  • Lesley Rameka University of Waikato
  • Tracey Togo University of Waikato




languaculture, identity, culture, wellbeing, colonisation, Māori


This paper presents understandings from indigenous Māori kaumātua (elders both male and female) and whānau (parents and extended family members) from Aotearoa New Zealand. These people live in a close-knit hapū (subtribe) community close to an ancestral meeting space known as their marae. Their marae continues to be essential in the promotion of Māori knowledge, language and ways of being. Kaumātua and whānau recall important cultural understandings and practices from this journey. From growing up largely in te ao Māori (the Māori world) they consider “languaculture”, the inter-relationships between language, identity and culture, as foundational to their future “hope” for collective cultural strength and wellbeing.

To renormalise the use of the language of their ancestors, we use many Māori words throughout. These words are italicised and translated the first time they are used.


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Author Biographies

Mere Berryman, University of Waikato

Mere Berryman ONZM, PhD, MEd has tribal affiliations to Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Whare. She is a Professor at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She has worked collaboratively with schools, Māori students, their families and communities in order to develop culturally responsive relationships as the basis for indigenising and decolonising schooling. Working with a Marsden research grant she has now been able to learn from Māori elders, whānau and their babies in order to understand implications from early childhood. Mere publishes in these fields.

Lesley Rameka, University of Waikato

Lesley Rameka PhD, MEd, BEd, DipTchg ECE affiliates to Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tukorere tribal groups. She has over 35 years’ experience in early childhood education, beginning in kōhanga reo, and working in a number of professional development and tertiary education providers. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Waikato, and her research interests include Māori education, early childhood education, assessment and curriculum development.

Tracey Togo, University of Waikato

Tracey Togo is of Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Awa descent and has worked extensively throughout Tauranga Moana within tertiary education on the development of traditional Māori performing arts, te reo Māori (the Māori language) and traditional Māori composition. On the Marsden research project, she is a research assistant working with the University of Waikato. She is an experienced researcher who has worked closely with kaumātua (elders), pakeke (adults), rangatahi (youth) and mokopuna (children) within her home community and nationally.


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How to Cite

Berryman, M., Rameka, L., & Togo, T. (2022). Understanding languaculture from an indigenous Māori worldview . The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(2). https://doi.org/10.55146/ajie.v51i2.322