Te Reo Māori Strategy lacks todays thinking
The Minister of Māori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples announced a proposed change in te reo strategy but failed to miss the fact that technology plays a vital role in this area.
For any language to be spoken by the masses it must be normalised and easy to access and widely used in not only the family but also in all aspects of society. There is a myriad of research that proves this to be the only successful solution for a language to survive.
Māori Television and Iwi radio has significantly normalised te reo Māori in the home, as much of the content is in te reo Māori. The next biggest home entertainment or in some areas the primary entertainment service is the Internet. Social media in Aotearoa New Zealand is a primary entertainment service which the te reo strategy has completely ignored.
Māori TV and Iwi radio became possible with the Waitangi Tribunal claim WAI 11 for spectrum allocation to Māori. WAI 776 sought spectrum for Māori on the same grounds to promote te reo Māori and gave Māori an opportunity to invest in spectrum and for the creation of 2Degrees mobile.
The claim for 4G spectrum failed as it was determined that the Crown could more effectively promote te reo Māori me Tiakanga via direct funding. In my opinion the justification for this is reasonable. Te Huarahi Tika Trust who are responsible for representing Māori and their investment in 3G spectrum via 2DegreesMobile and to promote te reo Māori have failed to deliver any significant benefits to Māori, while operating in a cloak and dagger style organisation for over a decade. Two lower end smart phones that are partially translated in te reo Māori were produced, while requests from the Android community to work in partnership to share resources so that anyone could freely use a localised Android phone were ignored, resulting in poor progress of te reo Māori in ICT.
Te Taura Whiri the Crown organisation who are Kaitiaki (Guardian) of te reo Māori have always been technology shy. Despite the high statistics usage in Aotearoa/New Zealand Te Taura Whiri have done little to normalise te reo in this area.
Google, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Windows 8, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Smart Phone, Mega Upload and Facebook are all available in te reo Māori but none had a great deal of attention or support from Te Taura Whiri. Facebook which is used by 63% of New Zealanders was translated into te reo Māori by a language expert, yet Te Taura Whiri engaged on a knee jerk smear campaign saying the words were transliterations, created in isolation etc., despite the fact many of the words are used in Google and Microsoft products and there were not one transliteration in the system and the fact that a recognised and Te Taura Whiri certified language expert created the translations.
The proposed te reo governance consultation must consider all of the above facts and consider how best to normalise te reo Māori in the new world of technology and the Internet. It should also consider how best to use one taonga (700 MHZ Radio Spectrum) to protect another taonga (te reo Māori). It is time for a radical shift in thought and to invite young leaders who live in the new world to be actively involved in the te reo strategy.