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.

Tauwehe's research and professional practice focuses on TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) to accelerate bilingualism and bi-literacy in Bilingual Education and the development of Virtual Reality applications as pedagogical tools for Second Language Acquisition.

Research | Current

Tauwehe’s research focuses on TransAcquisition Pedagogy (TAP) for emergent bilinguals in minority and migrant groups around the world. The TAP teaching procedures for cross-linguistic transfer promote active engagement between the bilingual student’s languages to accelerate reading comprehension in both languages. Her research includes the use of TAP for the biliterate teaching of academic English to raise the reading achievement levels of Māori medium students and bilingual immigrant students in English medium schools. 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:


  • Paul, Thomaseena. 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. (First dissertation in the Faculty of Education and Social Work to be submitted entirely in te reo Māori).


  • 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


  • (2019-2021) Co-researcher in the Knowledge-Rich School Project: Researching the Curriculum Design Coherence Model. The aim of this Project is to assist schools in designing their curricula by providing the Curriculum Design Coherence Model (CDC) as a tool to use in selecting and arranging concepts, content, skill-based activities, and evaluation methods for writing course topics. The specific objective is to trial and evaluate the CDC Model’s usefulness for this task in five schools.

  • (2019-2021) Co-PI with Professor Janet Gaffney (PI) and Dr Meg Jacobs( Co-PI) in the 'Understand Me: Connecting Families and Teachers of Young Children through Stories' Project. Family sociocultural knowledge that is distant from school-sanctioned knowledge is often undervalued or goes unrecognised in schools, particularly for families who are culturally and linguistically diverse (Si’ilata, 2014). In this intimate study, we will create a safe, listening-and-telling space for child-parent-teacher dyads to story their connected worlds. The aim is reciprocal understanding of another’s diverse lived experiences and ways of meaning, and about our identities within these defined communities.

  • (2018-2019) Principal Investigator of the Ako Aotearoa Hei Toko Project, 'Ako Ao Mariko: VR for Learning Te Reo'. While learning and speaking te reo Māori is widely encouraged for non-Māori students, it is often not easy. Many non-Māori students are genuinely interested in learning Te Reo to develop an introductory level of proficiency for use in everyday scenarios in culturally appropriate ways. This project focuses on the effectiveness of Virtual Reality as an educational tool to reduce students’ feelings of whakamā (anxiety) while learning te reo Māori. The Ako Ao Mariko VR-App will be delivered on a smartphone using virtual reality headsets to present basic Māori language phrases in a range of contexts.

  • (2017-2018) 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. 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) 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 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

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

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

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

  • KERU: Knowledge and Education Research Unit, (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)

  • 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