Article source: Dr Makarena Dudley, Newsroom
Image source: The Māori Language Commission
Research shows that people who are bilingual may be more resilient to mate wareware (dementia) than monolinguals. Dr Makarena Dudley looks at some little-known benefits of te reo Māori
The celebrations of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori this week provide us with a timely opportunity to honour the value of te reo as a vital healing and comforting factor for those who suffer from mate wareware (dementia).
Our research has shown that being able to use te reo Māori enables those with mate wareware to engage more fully in cultural activities and events - engagement which has been shown to be protective by slowing down or preventing the progression of this cruel condition.
Remarkably, whānau have reported that some kaumātua living with mate wareware have demonstrated an increased use of te reo Māori, which had been their first language but was suppressed in early childhood as a result of colonial practices. This tendency to revert to the first language in people who are bilingual is not uncommon, and some research shows that people who are bilingual may be more resilient to mate wareware than monolinguals.