Dr Sophie Tauwehe Tamati

DipTchg., BEd (Tchg), PGDip Interpreting & Translating Māori, MEd, PhD


"Ko te timatatanga o te whakaaro nui, kia wehi ki a Ihowa.”

He pepeha

Ko Maniapoto te iwi, ko Pukeroa te maunga, ko Puniu te awa, ko Kaputuhi te marae.

Ko Tūhoe te iwi, ko Panekire te maunga, ko Waikaremoana te moana, ko Te Kūhā te marae.

Ko Tūwharetoa te iwi, ko Tauhara te maunga, ko Taupo te moana, ko Waipahīhī te marae.

Sophie's research and professional practice focuses on Second Language Acquisition and Bilingual Education, specifically in the development of mobile learning technologies to accelerate bilingualism and TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) to accelerate bi-literacy.

Research | Current

Sophie Tauwehe Tamati’s research focuses on TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) as an original contribution to Bilingual Education for emergent bilinguals in migrant and minority groups around the world. The TAP teaching procedures for cross-linguistic transfer promote active engagement between languages to accelerate reading comprehension in both languages. Her particular research interest includes the use of TAP for the biliterate teaching of academic English to raise the reading achievement levels of Māori, Pasifika and immigrant children. This will support further research to develop a national bilingual curriculum for Aotearoa/NZ.

Teaching | Current

Te Puna Wānanga: School of Māori and Indigenous Education

  • EDPROFM 309 Te Pae Tawhiti Kia Tata – What are the socio-political implications of language change, shift, loss and revitalisation?  
  • EDCURRM 102 Te Reo Matatini: Te Pihinga – What do teachers need to know to teach literacy effectively?
  • EDCURRM 202 Te Reo Matatini: Te Puanga – How are wider concepts of literacy including bilingualism and biliteracy developed?
  • EDPRACM 101 Pakirehua Ngaio: Te Ao Pouako – What does it mean to be a teacher?

School of Curriculum and Pedagogy

  • EDPROFST 266 Introduction to Bilingual Education
  • EDPROFST 377 Bilingual Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy

Postgraduate supervision


  • Thomaseena Paul, MPS (TeachNZ Scholarship)


  • 2012: Recipient of the Australia New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA) in the ‘Diversity’ category, Canberra, Australia
  • 2012: Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori Digital Award for Māori Language
  • 2012: Human Rights Commission Award for supporting the maintenance and development of harmonious race relations in New Zealand
  • 2013: TED Speaker as the inventor of the Hika Rapid Language Learning App
  • 2014: Nominated for the United Nations World Summit Awards in the ‘Mobile: Inclusion & Empowerment’ category as the inventor of New Zealand’s best exemplar of mobile-content
  • 2016: Sole Faculty of Education and Social Work ‘Dean’s List’ recipient in recognition of excellence achieved in my PhD thesis


  • (2017-2018) I am the Principal Investigator of the ‘Māori Mai ME’ CLeaR SEED Innovation in Teaching Research Grant. This research study involves the development of Virtual Reality scenarios in a range of contexts for delivery on standard mobile devices. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of Virtual Reality as an educational tool in the learning of Te Reo Māori. University of Auckland staff and students in the faculties of Education and Social Work and Medical Health and Sciences will be invited to participate in the study. Too many Māori students disengage from education before gaining the skills, knowledge and qualifications to reach their full potential and Ministry of Health Studies have consistently shown Māori to have the poorest health of any New Zealand group. Participants will be immersed in the Virtual Reality environment to learn and practice targeted Māori language vocabulary and grammatical structures that exemplify cultural responsiveness in everyday contexts to normalise the use of Te Reo Māori in and beyond educational settings.

  • (2014-2016)  I was the New Zealand Representative on the M-Tech Mobile Learning Research Project which attracted participant teacher educators in 42 institutions around the world in 20 countries. The Project aimed to investigate the use of mobile technologies in the 'Initial Teacher Education' sector for Professional Learning and Development with lecturers and students. The invitation to join the Steering Committee of this Project acknowledged my experience and expertise as a patentee and developer of rapid language learning apps for the learning and teaching of Te Reo Māori in Tertiary institutions, schools and Early Childhood settings.

Areas of expertise

  • TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) to accelerate Reading Comprehension
  • Bilingual/Bi-literate Teaching Strategies for Emergent Bilingual Students
  • Second Language Acquisition Programmes for Initial Teacher Education
  • Mobile Technologies for Language Learning
  • Virtual Reality (VR) + Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Language Acquisition/Learning.
  • Kaupapa Māori Principles in Applied Linguistics
  • Teaching for Transfer using the Interrelational Translingual Network (ITN)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • (2018) Chairperson of the University of Auckland Reo Māori Policy Committee, a sub-committee of the Rūnanga which is administered by the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori), University of Auckland.

  • (2018) Marketing and Recruitment Committee, School of Māori and Indigenous Education, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

  • (2017-current) Chairperson of the Kāurutanga Reo Māori Postgraduate Programme which supports students who are writing their dissertations/theses in Te Reo Māori.

  • (2017-current) Postgraduate Research Approvals and Examinations Subcommittee, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

  • (2017-current) Postgraduate Research Committee, School of Māori and Indigenous Education, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

  • (2017) Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning (Primary) Development Group, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

  • (2016-current) Chairperson of the Kāhui Raukura Alumni Committee which supports the revitalisation of the Māori language at the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Tamati, S. T. (2015). The trans-acquisitional approach to bilingualism and biliteracy for English instruction in Kura Kaupapa Māori. Paper presented at Language, Education and Diversity (LED) 2015, Auckland, New Zealand. 23 November - 26 November 2015. Related URL.
  • Tamati, S. T., Dale, H, & Black, H (2013). Mā te whakahoki wawe i te kōrero ārahi ka pakari haere te reo.. Paper presented at Te Puna o te Kī, Auckland, New Zealand. 4 December - 6 December 2013.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Hemi Dale
  • Rata, E. M., & Tamati, S. (2013). The Effect of Indigenous Politics on English Language Provision in New Zealand’s Māori Schools. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 12 (4), 262-276. 10.1080/15348458.2013.818474
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34961
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Elizabeth Rata