Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Māori is one of three official languages of the country, but is not compulsory in schools. Only 4% of Aotearoa/NewZealand’s total population of around 4 million can speak Māori and only 23% of Māori are fluent in the language (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2008). Even this percentage of fluent speakers has been questioned by Bauer (2008) as being inflated and not indicative of the number of speakers who actually use the language (p. 63).
With the development of computers, the World Wide Web, smart phones, devices such as the iPad and iPod Touch and the use of Smart Boards and video conferencing, there is a wonderful opportunity to make the learning and teaching of second languages much more interesting, accessible and effective. Importantly, the opportunities for indigenous peoples to record, develop, disseminate and learn their respective languages and cultures are also increasing and provide new avenues to promote those languages and cultures. There is an opportunity to create innovative resources that will engage and inspire learners to learn endangered languages.
Te Ipukarea – The National Māori Language Research Institute was established in 2008 to promote excellence in scholarship, teaching and research in the Māori language. It is a collaboration of community and tertiary Māori language providers. The Institute addresses the need for a coordinated and determined approach to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Māori language education and of raising the status of the language by taking full advantage of modern technologies (http://www.teipukarea.maori.nz).
This paper will discuss briefly six initiatives using modern technology that Te Ipukarea has used to help in the preservation and the teaching and learning of Māori and other endangered languages.
- Te Kāwai Kūmara is a postgraduate Māori language programme for the
simultaneous teaching across several tertiary educational institutions using
advanced digital technologies.
- The digital resources that accompany the Te Whanake series of textbooks,
study guides, teachers’ manuals and dictionary, for the teaching and learning
- Tāmata Toiere is a free to access website for the archiving of Māori waiata
(sung poetry) and haka (chanted posture dances).
- The Te Ara Poutama Intranet, the online digital platform for Māori language
classes that is being used by AUT University’s Faculty of Māori
- Reo, a prototype digital language learning system that can be used for the
revitalisation of endangered languages and is currently being developed,
customised and trialled with four endangered languages.
- He Papa Huia and He Pātaka Mātauranga streamed videos of fluent speakers
on the Te Ipukarea website