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Wellington, New Zealand Launches Maori Language App

Image credit: Wellington City Council

The Wellington City Council, in collaboration with two organisations, has announced the launch of Mahau, a new Maori language mobile application to celebrate, encourage, and share the Maori language in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour).

According to a press release, it is a free, easy-to-use, interactive app to help locals and visitors to the city get started on their learning journey with phrases created specifically for Wellington City. It was developed alongside members of the community to enable users to learn Maori anytime, anywhere. Mahau will help to engage, speak, and understand the local dialects of Māori.

Mahau will help beginners with Maori words and pronunciation, as well as provide a list of Wellington destinations and place names. The Mahau app will be available for download after the launch date on 23 September. The public will also get to try out the app at events, festivals, libraries, and other Council facilities over the next few months. The app development, translation services, and ongoing promotional campaign costs are estimated at $70,000.

The release quoted an official as saying that the initiative is a continuation of the foundations laid by the Maori Language policy created to celebrate the language and support the revitalisation of the language within Council activities and Wellington City, ultimately supporting the goal to be a bilingual city by 2040.

It is a useful tool for anyone to pick up and use. It can be helpful if a user is looking for a place name within Wellington City, or the correct pronunciation of a word. The written and oral functions give the user a sense of confidence with every use, an official stated.

A similar effort was made in July when the Fakaako e Vagahau Niue interactive mobile application was launched to preserve the Niue language. The tool can be downloaded to smart devices to access information and knowledge relating to the Niue language (Vagahau Niue). Reports said the app was designed to enable learners to study Vagahau Niue at their own pace, from anywhere in the world.

It includes information on the Niue alphabet, everyday conversations, family, parts of the body, numbers, colours, villages, the calendar, seasons, sports, health, time, values, proverbs, and places of work. Also featured are pages including an interactive map showing villages and the singing of prayers and hymns. It features synchronised narration in the Niue language, an option to tap to hear the correct pronunciation of Niue words, and the ability to record the user’s own narration. It was partially funded by the Pacific Education Innovation Fund.

According to the Ministry of Education, the Pacific Education Support Fund is part of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and invests $39.7 million over four years (2020/21 to 2023/24) to broker support for Pacific learners and families to access education. It aligns with the wider government focus on well-being and engagement, including establishing curriculum lead roles, support for Pacific learners’ mental well-being, and support for educators’ well-being.

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