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Horomia: Māori Language Versions Windows

29 November 2005

Launch Of Māori Language Versions Windows Xp And Microsoft Office


I am delighted to offer my congratulations to all those involved in producing the Māori Language Interface Packs for Windows and Office.

To the representatives of Microsoft – I thank you for the commitment you have shown to the Māori language and indeed for the farsighted approach to indigenous languages you have taken worldwide. To the team from Waikato University - I acknowledge the skills you have displayed in both the IT area and in your continued dedication to excellence in the Māori language. To Te Taura Whiri – thank you again for your efforts in implementing the Government’s Māori language policies.

It is my sincere belief that the launch of these products is a significant step in the road to revitalising the Māori Language. We have seen a significant increase in the numbers of Māori and other New Zealanders learning the language over the last decade. It is important that they now have access to tools to support them in using the language in everyday situations.

The Government has in place a strategy that aims to see the place of the Māori language in our nation strengthened to the point that it is a normal part of everyday life. The strategy seeks to achieve this through:

 enhanced Māori language education;
 the expanded use of the language in the home and community;
 and encouraging the appreciation of the language by all New Zealanders.

The availability of Microsoft applications in Māori has the potential to contribute to all three of these areas if the applications are widely used by those with the language skills to do so.

It is also important that the numbers of Māori who are utilising the latest in information and communication technology is expanded. Presently only one in four Māori homes are connected to the internet. The availability of Microsoft applications in the Māori Language will facilitate the expansion of ICT use by Māori. I am sure that as the next generation of Māori come of age, they will be making much wider use of ICT than my generation has to date. I am especially pleased that the Interface Packs have the potential to significantly boost the IT resources of children in Māori medium education.

Though significant steps have been taken in revitalising the language since the 1970s, there is still much work that needs to be done. The Māori language is no longer in danger of disappearing off the face of the earth. However, there remains a real danger that it will become a kind of Latin – confined to use in ceremony and education only – rather than being a language with a self-perpetuating pool of native speakers.

For this reason, innovations such as the Language Interface Packs that expand the domains in which the language can be used are vital for the future of the Māori Language. We need more such innovations to provide tools that enable the language to be normalized in information technology, communications technology, media and entertainment.

The project to develop Māori Language capacity for Microsoft Office and Windows has been a true collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as the academic and commercial sectors.

Both the Government and Microsoft have much to gain from the success of this project – the Government in seeing its goals for language revitalisation met and Microsoft in terms of the expansion of its customer base into demographics that have been under represented in technology uptake.

The innovative solutions developed by Microsoft with the aid of Te Taura Whiri, Waikato University and others highlight the advantages of such collaborations.

I don’t believe that any one sector alone will be able to meet the ongoing challenges the Māori language faces in the 21st century. We therefore need more of the kinds of partnerships that have resulted in the production of these Language Interface Packs as we look to expand the use of Māori in communications, media and education.

Māori have shown a remarkable desire to adapt to the opportunities and challenges that colonisation has brought. In the early 19th century, Māori appropriated the technology of the Pākehā in their commercial activity, education, and warfare with considerable dynamism.

I believe we are entering a similar period of technological innovation as Māori take the lead in appropriating the new technology of the post-industrial era to meet their needs.

The partnership with Microsoft is one example of this. For Māori to fulfil their potential, there is still considerable work to be done in this area. I look forward to seeing the new and exciting innovations that Māori, in partnership with Government and the private sector, will produce in their near future.

Ka mutu


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