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The digital tools to help you improve your Māori language skills

Peter Griffin. 14 September 2021, 9:32 am

Te Whanganui-a-Tara may well be where I live, but I only this week realised I was pronouncing it incorrectly thanks to the Te Aka Māori Dictionary app, which had a major revamp in time for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week).

The trick, it turned out, was drawing out the "a" a bit longer. Available as a paid app on iOS and Android devices or free to use via a web browser, the Te Aka Māori Dictionary has audio clips for 24,000 Māori words and the ability to filter results by idioms, phrases, proverbs and loan words. You can also save definitions to a favourites list, which is great to help you undue bad pronunciation habits.

Tech company Dynamo6 partnered with the Te Murumāra Foundation to revamp the app, which is aimed at supporting the adoption of te reo Māori. The foundation is run by Peter Moorfield, the son of the late founder of the Te Aka Māori Dictionary, Professor John C. Moorfield.

"The Te Muramāra Foundation has revitalised the app to ensure there is an authoritative Māori to English language resource available for all. The new app also continues and extends an important project to my father, the Te Whanake language resources," says Moorfield.

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The Te Aka Māori Dictionary app, available on iOS, Android and the web

Dynamo6 rebuilt the app for faster translation between Maori and English and vice versa. It features a clean design and is simple to use. Proceeds from sales of the app, which cost me $5.29 as a Google Play purchase, go to the foundation for the future development of the dictionary. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are also used to allow the dictionary's extensive database to power other apps and translators, including the Kupu app, which Spark launched in 2018.

Kupu uses a smartphone's image recognition to identify objects in the picture and provide Te Reo Māori translations for them.

Prior to Māori Language Week, the Te Aka Māori Dictionary app had been installed 25,000 times with an average 170,000 searches each day. Those statistics are likely to receive a significant bump this week as te reo Māori is in the spotlight.

Language tutors nationwide have reported record demand for te reo Māori classes with waitlists for spaces in many places. Still, the language is still classed as "endangered". Around 1 in 6 Māori adults can speak in te reo, according to the 2018 Te Kupenga (Māori wellbeing survey) conducted by Stats NZ - Tatauranga Aotearoa. Around 1% of non-Māori can claim to be fluent in the language.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori runs from 13 - 19 September. 

Check out some of these great digital resources to help you engage with and improve your confidence in using te reo Māori.

Te Aka Māori Dictionary app - quick definitions and translations with audio clips.

Kupu - an easy and fun way to learn the Maori word and pronunciation for objects in the world around you.

Āke Āke - lets you write your own mihi and understand the pōwhiri process as well as offering translations and definitions.

A more extensive list of apps te reo Māori is hosted here.



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