Technology brings te reo Māori to life

Technology is the key to reviving the development of te reo Māori, shows PhD research from Victoria University of Wellington.

Tabitha McKenzie’s thesis looks at revitalising te reo Māori, and improving proficiency in educational facilities where Māori is spoken. She has also developed a professional learning and development programme for use in primary schools.

Digital technologies, such as iPods and iPads, were used to monitor the development of the oral language. The voice memo function in these devices was used extensively.

Tabitha and her team also created videos on various aspects of the language that were loaded onto devices for teachers and participants to review. Those taking part in the study also had regular meetings to discuss progress.

The research involved all people in the wider school community who interacted with children on a daily basis, including teachers, teacher aides, principals, librarians and a caretaker.

“At some point they do have an impact on students, whether that’s out in the playground, in the library or in the classroom,” McKenzie explains.

She also says that while initiatives such as Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, or Māori Language Week, and the Māori Television channel are important for te reo Māori, it is also necessary to investigate new approaches in order to continue the growth of language skills.

“Technology is one way of doing this that you can’t really go past, especially in the world we live in now,” she says.

McKenzie conducted the research with a vision of creating a pathway towards achieving proficiency in te reo Māori for future teachers and children.

“Anyone in our bicultural country who wants to should be able to speak and understand te reo Māori.”

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