Maori TV cartoons could help to animate language

DONNA-LEE BIDDLE
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2014
Kristin Ross
CHRIS HILLOCK/ Fairfax NZ
STUDY: Part of the title of Kristin Ross's thesis is: "I am the cartoon, the cartoon is me"

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Kristin Ross' research is creating plenty of opportunities to become animated about te reo Maori.

The Waikato University Master of Arts student from Ngati Kahu, is studying for a thesis about the benefits of producing children's cartoons in te reo.

"It is imperative that children see and hear themselves and familiar characteristics of their world in the programming that they watch."

Ross is a second-language learner of te reo Maori and along with her partner Hohepa Tuahine, who is also studying a masters in te reo, they are choosing to speak only te reo to their three-year-old daughter Hinehui.

"We feel it's important to set precedence for our family, for our daughter and to immerse her in the language and to help build her confidence, said Ross.

"I was always at the marae growing up but I didn't know Maori. When I learnt, it was a whole other world . . . a view of the world I had never seen before."

The 25-year-old also won a Ngarimu VC and 28th (Maori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Award for her master's thesis, "Ko te kātuna ko au, ko au ko te kātuna: He wewetenga i nga katuna o Whakaata Maori ma te kohungahunga.

It translates to: "I am the cartoon, the cartoon is me: An analysis of pre-school aged cartoons on Maori Television."

The scholarship is worth $15,000 and Ross said she was shocked but honoured to receive it.

"When I got the award, it was like I was receiving it on behalf of my whole family. It was for my people, not just for me."

The scholarship has enabled Ross to continue with her research and in September she will travel to Kuala Lumpur to attend the World Summit on Media for Children.

Ross hopes to gain an understanding of children's programming within other indigenous cultures and possibly apply that knowledge to her theory.

"There is so much overseas content out there. Even on Maori TV, there is a lack locally produced programming for our children, said Ross.

"It was being at home with my baby, that I realised there is a need for local programmes in te reo, something our children can relate to and learn from."

Originally from Parapara, Ross said she's proud to go home and be able to talk in te reo to her whanau, especially the younger generation.

"The younger one's see that we speak te reo and we speak it to our daughter so they aren't afraid to try and speak a few words, it's nice to see."

She is also a tutor and mentor for undergraduates at the School of Maori and Pacific Development at Waikato University, a role she relishes.

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Ross is halfway through her 40,000 word thesis and hopes to finish at the end of the year.

"I'm not sure what I'm gonna do yet but I love the world of academia," said Ross.

"I don't know if I want to leave.

"Maybe I'll carry on with my PHD."

Donna-Lee Biddle is a Wintec journalism student.

- Waikato Times

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