Level Finder Examination (LFE)

Whakamātauria Tō Reo Māori is the National Māori Language Proficiency Examinations administered by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. The examinations are open to individuals and organisations who wish to test their Māori Language Proficiency against the Whakamātauria Tō Reo Māori framework.

The LFE provides a general indicator of a candidates’ ability to aurally recognise words and their knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.

The examination is a written test only and takes 1 hour and ten minutes including ten minutes reading time. An optional survey is the concluding section of the LFE examination and asks candidates to provide information about their Māori language experience.

The three sections that constitute the examination are:

  • aural recognition (dictation)
  • vocabulary (close reading and multi-choice answer options)
  • grammar (close reading and multi-choice answer options)

The LFE examination marks are reported in levels ranging from 1 – 5, 5 being higher proficiency.


Five-level Proficiency Framework

The proficiency framework underpins the Whakamātauria Tō Reo Māori examination system.

It identifies and describes five levels of Māori language ability.

Results of the LFE are given as one of the following levels of the framework.




Level 5

Complete proficiency 

The person is a skillful user of Māori language and should have the linguistic flexibility to enter easily into a range of culturally bound settings. The user should have an excellent command of communicative strategies, grammar, vocabulary and idiomatic language that enables the person to use the language spontaneously, fluently, and appropriately in a range of situations. The user should be able to convey all of their thoughts, opinions, and emotions clearly and appropriately in Māori according to whom they are interacting with and the context of the interaction. The user is normally familiar with many dialectal variations and can participate appropriately and effectively in interactions with other very competent users of Māori. It is expected that the user is able to speak precisely and specifically about complex and abstract issues including some very specialist topics. When conversing in Māori, the user will very rarely, if ever need to switch to English, even when there has been a breakdown in communication.

Level 4

Higher proficiency 

The person should be able to communicate easily, confidently and spontaneously in almost all everyday situations. A good command of grammar, vocabulary and idiomatic language will enable the person to interact in a sustained manner, rarely having to switch to English or use English terms. The user usually has some specialised Māori language skills, which enables them to participate appropriately in a range of social and professional settings and discuss a range of specialist topics including some that they are less familiar with. Their Māori language ability enables the person to discuss quite complex issues, particularly related to things they know a lot about. At this level a Māori language user makes very few errors.

Level 3

Moderate proficiency 

The person should be able to participate easily and effectively in uncomplicated communicative tasks. They are able to initiate and sustain spontaneous interaction with fluent speakers in straightforward discussions and can do most everyday things effectively in Māori. At this level it is expected that the person can use Māori effectively in the workplace for many tasks and discuss issues related to their own field of specialisation. The user can communicate effectively in many formal and informal situations, but at times they have to use simple language to convey their thoughts. Some errors may still be evident in the language of a person at this level.

Level 2

Basic conversational proficiency

The person should be able to use Māori language successfully to meet basic social needs. Using simple language, they are able to participate effectively in many everyday situations. The range of language of a level 2 user is limited but it is expected that the person has sufficient communicative strategies to enable them to interact effectively in predictable settings, particularly about concrete subjects. Although they make quite a few errors and often have to think hard about how to say things, a user at this level can usually make themselves understood.

Level 1

Basic routine language 

The person should be able to communicate at a basic level about a limited range of topics. They can use Māori language to meet their basic survival needs. The language used will be limited to short, simple utterances for carrying out routine tasks. At this level, errors occur frequently and production of language is usually slow and unnatural. When speaking, users at this level normally have to think hard about how to say things, even at a fairly basic level. Frequent communication breakdowns occur when attempting to interact with a fluent speaker. A person at level 1 is not sure that they can make themselves understood.


Examination format

Time:  you are allowed one hour to complete the LFE. An additional 10-minute reading time is allocated at the start of the exam.

Dictation assessment (20mins)A passage will be read 3 times, your task is to write out what you hear in the document provided.

Multi-choice questions (50mins) that assess your vocabulary and word choice based on context.


Health and Safety

  • Please do not attend the examination if you’re sick or experiencing any cold or flu symptoms. Please do not attend if you have been in contact or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive or is a suspected positive case of COVID-19
  • All exam candidates MUST sign in to the NZ COVID Tracer App through the QR codes displayed in exam sitting locations OR sign in on arrival providing your name and contact details
  • You are encouraged to wear face masks throughout the exam. (Limited masks and hand sanitizer will be provided at exam venue)
  • Please be advised that despite COVID alert levels, social distancing will be observed in exam rooms


Examination rules

  • Cell phones – or any other electronic communication devices - are not permitted in the examination room
  • This is a closed book exam – Dictionaries or assistance in any form, from or of another person is strictly prohibited
  • Ensure you have water at hand, and snacks if needed.
  • Ensure you arrive at least 10 minutes before the examination to confirm registration and your Candidate number.
  • You must follow all instructions given by the Co-ordinator.


Reporting results

Results are normally available three weeks after the examination. Result slips and E-Certificates are sent to the email address provided on the registration form. For security reasons, examination scripts will not be returned to candidates.  If contact details change between the time of registering and the exam sitting, please notify the Examinations Officer on the day of the exam. If they change within the three weeks between the sitting and when results are due, please email lfe@tetaurawhiri.govt.nz.


How to apply

The registration link for the LFE has now closed. Thank you all for such a great response! Registration will open again once we've had time to respond to the registrations we've already received.

There is no cost associated with sitting the LFE.


Please note that LFE exams are currently being delivered face to face and can only be organised once there’s 20 or more expressions of interest in the same region. Once 20 or more EoI’s have been received from a particular region, exam coordinators arrange a sitting venue, date and time. These details will be communicated to EOI senders via e-mail informing confirmed exam date, time and venue as well as a link to a registration form for the confirmed exam sitting.

Corporate booking

If you are a people manager who would like to make a booking of 20 or more people for your organisation/business/company, please select 'group' in the dropdown box on the form.