Horizons of Insight Seminar - July 2013

Minority language speakers are being placed under increasing pressure to use languages that are moredominant, more prestigious, or more widely known. This is particularly so when using internet–based technology. Ironically, minority language groups are increasingly embracing the power of this technology as they struggle to ensure the continued health and survival of their own languages. Māori are no exception. Initiatives involving the Microsoft Corporation, Moodle and Google Inc. have resulted in a range of localised interfaces now available in the Māori language. More recently, Māori has been made available on mobile devices, physical self–service machines and within social media. This represents a significant increase in the situations where te reo Māori can be used constantly–regardless of geographic distances. Intuitively, the ability to use everyday technologies in te reo Māori provides useful options for ensuring long–term language health This research aims to identify what these options might be. Initial investigations have concentrated on quantifying levels of awareness and engagement in terms of existing localised software interfaces. Similar analysis has been undertaken for localised self-service interfaces on ATMs and library self-issuing machines. Current investigation aims to identify the impact of social media – initially blogging and micro–blogging (Twitter).The analysis will determine how specific technologies might be used to support language strategies and the necessary shifts in awareness, perception, and engagement that are required in order to normalise the everyday use of the language within technology-based environments and, consequently, within general day–to–day contact. Although focussing on the Māori context this research is expected to also have some relevance forindigenous languages internationally.

Paora Mato has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing and has completed an honours degree that focussed on Project Management and research issues for Māori, a Master of Arts which investigated Digital Libraries and Online Language Learning, a Graduate Diploma in te reo Māori and a Master of Māori and Pacific Development mainly investigating Community and Organisational Development.