ASTWR Episode 26. Mother Tongue: Language is life!

This episode is a conversation with language perpetuators (aka professors) Kaliko Baker, PhD (from Hawai’i) and Rangi Matamua, PhD (from Aotearoa) about how one’s "mother tongue" is the foundation of culture as well as personal and communal identity. We discuss how a long term investment in master-level language initiatives can have many spillover effects, including significant economic impacts and a strengthened national identity even for non-native speakers. This is a timely topic as lanaguage loss is at an all-time high globally. An excerpt from a recent Smithsonian SmartNews article by Kat Eschner underscored this succinctly––“The grimmest predictions have 90 percent of the world’s languages dying out by the end of this century. Although this might not seem important in the day-to-day life of an English speaker with no personal ties to the culture in which they’re spoken, language loss matters. Here’s what we all lose: 1. We lose the expression of a unique vision of what it means to be human; 2. We lose memory of the planet’s many histories and cultures; 3. We lose some of the best local resources for combatting environmental threats; and 4. Some people lose their mother tongue.” Read the full article here:



Dr. C.M. Kaliko Baker is an associate professor of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa with a teaching focus is on Hawaiian grammar and worldview. He also has international research interests, which he has fulfilled by participating in Te Mauria Whiritoi, a Waikato, Aotearoa, based project studying the sky as a cultural resource- Maori astronomy, ritual and ecological knowledge. He is one of 8 scholars on the project researching relevant phenomena through an indigenous lens. He is  also President of Haleleʻa Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3, that supports and promotes, and publishes Hawaiian media; in his role he serves as researcher, writer, editor, and dramaturge.

Dr. Matamua of Tūhoe, is an associate Professor and senior lecturer based in the School of Māori and Pacific Development at Waikato University. He has undertaken significant research in the areas of Māori language revitalisation, Māori culture, Māori astronomy and broadcasting. In his MA thesis, Rangi focused on traditional Tūhoe weaponary, and his PhD examined the role of Māori radio in Māori language revitalisation. In addition, Dr Matamua has produced a number of publications in his specialist areas, and sits on a number of related boards including Society for Māori Astronomy Research and Traditions (SMART).


  • to Waiwai Collective for supporting And Still the Waters Rise, and for committing to cultivate a community that takes the necessary creative risks to put collective values into daily practice, affirm shared responsibilities, and learns together to create a more waiwai future. To learn more about booking and attending events or becoming a member and sharing the co-working space, please visit:  -or-  IG & FB: @waiwaicollective;
  • to Kupa’āina for letting ASTWR use a piece of the awesome song Simple Island People in the intro of each show;
  • to my family and close friends whose continued support means everything to me; and
  • to Hānau Creative LLC for producing the show

Naiʻa Lewis