PhD thesis: Planning for Tolerability

Julia de Bres Julia.deBres at
Mon Dec 15 09:39:21 UTC 2008

Kia ora tatou

I have recently completed my PhD thesis 'Planning for Tolerability: Promoting Positive Attitudes and Behaviours towards the Maori Language among non-Maori New Zealanders'.

The thesis focuses on minority language planning targeting majority language speakers ('planning for tolerability'), and includes:

•	a theoretical discussion of why language planners might focus on majority language speakers in minority language regeneration;

•	an analysis of New Zealand government policy on targeting non-Maori New Zealanders in Maori language regeneration over the past ten years;

•	an analysis of recent and current language promotion materials targeting non-Maori New Zealanders (including TV ads, phrase booklets and a website), as well as how a group of 80 non-Maori New Zealanders responded to them;

•	 the results of a data collection process with 80 non-Maori New Zealanders, enquiring into their attitudes towards the Maori language, and what they think they can do to support Maori language regeneration;

•	an analysis of international language planning targeting majority language speakers in relation to the Welsh language and the Catalan language; and

•	an attempt to draw together all of these findings to consider implications for the future of Maori language planning targeting majority language speakers in New Zealand.

The abstract is copied below, and the thesis itself is accessible via the following link:

Please contact me for any further information.

Nga mihi
Julia de Bres

Research Fellow
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand
julia.debres at

Abstract: Planning for Tolerability: Promoting Positive Attitudes and Behaviours towards the Maori Language among non-Maori New Zealanders
Julia de Bres, 2008, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

This thesis investigates the effectiveness of promoting positive attitudes and behaviours towards the Māori language among non-Māori New Zealanders as a contributing factor in Māori language regeneration.  

It begins by examining the theoretical rationale for focusing on the attitudes and behaviours of majority language speakers in minority language regeneration.  Although the impact of majority language speakers on minority languages is clear, theoretical perspectives differ on whether majority language speakers should be a focus of language regeneration planning.  Competing approaches are discussed, and a process model is introduced for ‘planning for tolerability’ - minority language planning targeting the attitudes and behaviours of majority language speakers.  This model posits five essential components: recognising the problem; defining the target audience of majority language speakers; developing messages and desired behaviours; selecting policy techniques; and evaluating success.  

After reviewing existing research on the attitudes of non-Māori New Zealanders towards the Māori language and introducing the participants to the current research, the New Zealand government’s approach to planning for the tolerability of the Māori language is examined.  The Government has recognised the importance of non-Māori in Māori language regeneration since the beginning of the development of the Māori Language Strategy in the mid 1990s.  The extent to which the Government considers non-Māori as an important audience for Māori language planning in practice, however, appears to fluctuate.  Possible reasons for this are discussed.  

The main focus of Māori language policy towards non-Māori has been promotional campaigns.  The discursive approach taken in a selection of these campaigns is analysed, showing that promotional materials aimed at non-Māori New Zealanders (including television ads, phrase booklets, and a website) transmit a wide range of messages about the Māori language, relating to both attitudes and ‘desired behaviours’.  Such messages are conveyed through a range of discursive techniques, using both a ‘reason’ and a ‘tickle’ approach.

An analysis is also presented of data collected from eighty non-Māori New Zealanders at nine white-collar workplaces in Wellington, using questionnaires and interviews.  The analysis centres on the attitudes of the participants towards the Māori language, their responses to current and recent promotional materials, and the role they see for themselves in supporting Māori language regeneration.  

Language policy approaches targeting majority language speakers in two international minority language situations, Wales and Catalonia, are then examined, and comparisons made to the New Zealand approach.  The analysis concludes that the three approaches to planning for tolerability each exhibit some unique features, relating to all five components of planning for tolerability.  Possible reasons for the distinct approaches are discussed.

Finally, the results of the analysis of New Zealand government policy, the data collection process and the international comparisons are drawn together in order to consider the future of planning for tolerability in New Zealand.

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