Information technology operating across a range of diverse platforms such as the Internet, web browsers and software language packs for Office applications have played a vital and integral part in the dissemination of the Maori language and culture. That dissemination of information continues to push forward with the availability of complimentary Maori language packs for Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 which was announced on the GovTech website. The Maori Language Commission and the University of Waikato have been instrumental in this work of translation.
I think it is interesting and relevant to place these available resources within the context of a study that was conducted in 1998 and 2002 where a Maori language web survey was carried out and the findings presented in a paper called ‘Is the Web being used to speak our language’ (referring to the Maori language). Hence, it is resources such as these that continue to address this hypothesis and contribute to greater availability, exposure and meaningful use of te reo Maori through information technology, in particularly through a strong Web presence.
The following extract shows findings from the 2002 study:
“In November 2002 there were 100 Web sites and 30,346 Web pages found on the Web that had significant Maori language content. When examining the amount of Maori language on the Web site, the sites were characterised into five levels of Maori language usage”
1) Web site is completely in Maori
2) more than 75% of information in Maori
3) 25%–75% information provided in Maori
4) less than 25% of information in Maori
5) no Maori text on site but multimedia Maori language material available for download
(Keegan, Cunningham & Benton, 2004).
It would be reasonable to suggest that since 2002 to 2011 there would have been either an increase or decrease of Maori language content on the Worldwide Web and that new statistical information would reflect those changes. Nevertheless, based on observation, I feel that there has been an increase considering a quantified presence of Maori language content across a wide range of different sectors such as education, media, business, social networking and IT to name a few. Of course, this is just conjecture at best and I’m not about to go and actually count how many Maori language based sites there are on the Web any time soon. Tēnā ka riro mā tētahi atu tērā mahi. I am not aware of any follow-up study at this time but, the summary of the survey has concluded that…
“further investigation needs to be undertaken to determine whether the Maori language resources and texts that are being made available are in fact being used. The next logical step is to log and analyse user interactions with Maori language Web sites”
Although this statement does not actually refer to a follow-up on a new study to determine an increase or decrease of Maori language based sites on the net (you could almost treat this like a longitudinal study), I think their proposed next step is a very logical one and may provide some useful information for measuring Maori language revitalization efforts. I look forward to that study, if it hasn’t already been carried out.
Just a personal note, despite a strong presence and plethora of Maori language based content on the Web, it is mind boggling and difficult to know what is out there that could be worthy of bookmarking. In my case, I have inadvertently and randomly come across sites that have been invaluable to my own research that I would otherwise never have known about. Thank goodness for bookmarking. Perhaps a platform for consolidating every current Maori language based site on the Web into a one-click, easy and quick searchable application organised under different categories (e.g. education, media) might be worth investigating. Mā wai e hika mā?
Conclusion: the more I look on the Net and the more Maori language and culturally based content I find, the more I am convinced that Maori are leading the way in indigenous language revitalization worldwide. Watch these videos of a Native American academic who mentions Maori language as a successful model for language revitalization in my playlist via YouTube etipuereo
Kati, he mihi maioha ki Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, ratou ko Te Taurawhiri i te Reo Maori, ko Microsoft, me te hunga katoa kua hangaa he paetukutuku kia hapai ake ai me te tautoko ake i te reo rangatira. Ka mau ke te wehi!