Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Google calls on Te Reo speakers for help

With Maori Language week in full swing, tech giant Google is calling for Te Reo enthusiasts to check out the service's language translation tool.

The company, which launched a Maori language version of Google five years ago, said the special page was well used and was receiving thousands of hits each day.

The service may even help to revive the dwindling number of Te Reo speakers, company spokeswoman Annie Baxter said.

Latest available census data from 2001 to 2006 revealed a drop in ability to hold an everyday conversation in Maori from 25.2 to 23.7 per cent.

"We have a long way to go before Maori is off the endangered languages list, and we think technology holds an important key," Ms Baxter commented in her first Maori Language Week blog post.

"We need more Maori speakers to join us and rate translations so we can see if Maori could become a candidate for full integration into Google Translate."

Google Translate allows languages to be translated automatically. The current Maori-language version of Google translates words and phrases in Te Reo.

Being registered as part of Google Translate would enable users to access a more comprehensive service for Maori language translations.

Ms Baxter said more input from native Te Reo speakers was needed to assess how well the company's service was working.

Those fluent in Te Reo should go to the Google Maori language page and rate how accurate the translations were, she said.

"Doing so will help us determine the viability of Te Reo Maori to be fully integrated with Google Translate - which could be a huge step forward for the language."

- APNZ

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