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 Iwi Tapu te iwi, ko Hiona te maunga, ko Pihona te awa, ko Te Oranga Ake te marae.

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.

Tēnā koutou katoa.

Research | Current

Tauwehe's research and professional practice focuses on TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) to accelerate academic biliteracy in minority and migrant bi/multilingual students. The TAP teaching procedures for cross-linguistic transfer promote active engagement between the student’s languages to accelerate reading and writing in both languages. Her research includes the use of TAP for the biliterate teaching of academic English to improve reading accuracy and reading comprehension in Māori medium students and English medium bi/multilingual students. Tauwehe's research also includes the development and evaluation of translingual digital environments in Virtual Reality Apps as pedagogical tools for Second Language Acquisition.

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

Completed supervision:


  • Thomaseena Paul. Kura kaupapa ki kura rīroa: Whānau perceptions of transitioning from kura kaupapa Māori to English medium secondary schooling, Master of Professional Studies (TeachNZ Scholarship). Main supervisor. (Thomaseena's dissertation in the Faculty of Education and Social Work was the first to be submitted entirely in te reo Māori).


  • 2016: Faculty of Education and Social Work ‘Dean’s List’ recipient in recognition of excellence achieved in a PhD thesis.
  • 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.
  • 2013: TED Speaker as the inventor of the Hika Rapid Language Learning App.
  • 2012: Human Rights Commission Award for supporting the maintenance and development of harmonious race relations in New Zealand.
  • 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


  • (2019-2021) Co-Principal Investigator with Professor Janet Gaffney and Dr Meg Jacobs in the 'Understand Me: Connecting Families and Teachers of Young Children through Stories' Project. In this intimate study, we will create a safe, listening-and-telling space for the child-parent-teacher relationship to story their connected worlds. The aim is reciprocal understanding of another’s diverse lived experiences and ways of meaning, to better understand our identities within these defined communities.

  • (2019) Principal Investigator of the 2019 Hangarau Matarau Forum for Developers of Indigenous Language Apps as the recipient of the 2019 Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) Knowledge Event Support Grant. This forum will bring together researchers and representatives from the Māori-medium education sectors, iwi, industry and relevant government agencies to share, discuss and identify priority areas for research and development to support the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori 2020-2030. The Forum will be at the University of Auckland from December 9th to 12th. 

  • (2018-2019) Principal Investigator of the Ako Aotearoa Hei Toko Project, Ako Ao Mariko: VR for Learning Te Reo Māori at the University of Auckland. Many staff and students are genuinely interested in learning Te Reo Māori to develop an introductory level of proficiency for use in culturally appropriate ways. This research project focuses on the effectiveness of Virtual Reality as an educational tool to reduce students’ feelings of whakamā (anxiety) while learning Te Reo. The Ako Ao Mariko VR-App is delivered on smartphones using virtual reality headsets to present basic Māori language conversational scenarios in a range of contexts.

  • (2017-2018) Principal Investigator of the Māori Mai ME’ CLeaR SEED Innovation in Teaching Research Grant. This research involved the development of the first Virtual Reality Māori language learning app to evaluate the effectiveness of VR as a tool to learn the language. The Māori Mai ME app targeted basic Reo Māori and cultural responsiveness in everyday contexts to normalise the use of the language in and beyond educational settings.  

  • (2014-2016) 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 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 Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sectors.

Areas of expertise

  • TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) to accelerate bilingualism and biliteracy
  • Virtual Reality (VR) applications for Second Language Acquisition
  • Bilingual/Bi-literate teaching strategies for emergent bilingual students
  • Second Language Acquisition programmes for Māori medium Initial Teacher Education

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Co-Chair of the Mātāpuna committee, a sub-committee of the University of Auckland Rūnanga, with oversight of the University of Auckland Reo Māori Policy, (2018).

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

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

  • Research Executive of the Knowledge and Education Research Unit, Faculty of Education and Social Work,(2011-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-current).

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • 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