James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Scammers use te reo Maori ploy

Expert says emails so poorly written that native speakers clearly have nothing to do with them — for now

Don't reply to emails saying you won the lottery, police say. Picture /
Getty Images
Don't reply to emails saying you won the lottery, police say. Picture / Getty Images

Scammers are renewing an old con by using te reo Maori in bogus emails, but tech and language experts say they're so bad it's unlikely anyone could fall for them.

The Herald was forwarded an email in Maori that appears to propose a friendship. Scam experts say it would likely lead to requests for money.

Another uses what appears to be a cross between te reo Maori and Samoan. It asks for the recipient's bank account details so a multi-million-dollar deposit can be made for a cancer sufferer.

Netsafe director Martin Cocker said he was aware of a growing number of email scams using languages other than English.

"Typically they'd be in a language spoken outside New Zealand, for example, Korean, and 'accidentally' targeting Korean-speaking New Zealanders."

He said the scams were so poorly written that native speakers clearly had nothing to do with them - for now.

He suspected online devices like Google translate were used but warned that when such technologies improve, so will the scams.

"In general terms, cyber-crime is becoming more professional and targeted. So we can assume that within a few years there will be believable scams in te reo Maori."

Latest Census figures show that the number of Maori speakers fell from 131,610 in 2006 to 125,352 last year. A 6.2 per cent fall in speakers under 15 indicated the rate of transmission by parents to babies and children was declining. Peter Merrigan of the Department of Internal Affairs said given the small base of people who use the language, scammers were going the extra mile to target their audience.

He had found variations of one of the messages on dating sites - one of which was in Arabic.

"It tells me that the person is doing a bit of research behind their target audience or country," he said.

Mr Merrigan said the message tried to entice the recipient into engaging in communication with the sender. That would lead to further dialogue and requests for money.

The department receives several scam-related reports from the public each day, but had not seen a scam-related message in te reo Maori before.

A police spokesman did not say whether people had been caught out by the te reo Maori scam, but said electronic crime was a rapidly evolving area.

"Don't respond to emails saying you won the lottery - you haven't, it is always a scam - and don't send money overseas to people you have met on the internet."

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori spokesman Gareth Seymour looked at both emails. His verdict: "These are very poor translations."


Maori translation

Kei te whakamahia ano e nga kaitinihanga tetahi tikanga tinihanga tawhito ma te whakamahi i te reo Maori i roto i nga imera teka, engari hei ta nga matanga rorohiko me te reo na te tino he o enei imera e kore e riro nga tangata i tenei tinihanga.

I tukuna mai he imera i roto i te reo Maori ki te Herora e torotoro ana i tetahi whanaungatanga. Hei ta nga matanga tatari tinihanga, ko te otinga atu ka inoi moni i a koe.

Tera ano tetahi atu imera i roto i te reo Maori me te reo Hamoa. Kei te tono te kaituku i te peke putea a te kaiwhiwhi me te ki kei te tukuna atu nga miriona tara ma tetahi tangata e pangia ana e te mate pukupuku.

Hei ta te tumuaki o Netsafe a Martin Cocker, i te mohio ia kei te maha haere atu nga imera tinihanga e whakamahi ana i nga reo i tua atu i te reo Ingarihi.

"Ko te tikanga kei roto i tetahi reo no tawahi, hei tauira no Koria, a, ka 'tupono' noa iho te tuku atu ki nga kaikorero reo Koria o Aotearoa."

I ki ia kei te "tino he rawa te tuhi" i nga imera tinihanga, a, ehara na te kaikorero reo tuturu mo tenei wa.

Ko tana whakapae kei te whakamahia nga purere whakamaori tuihono penei i ta Google, engari ko tana whakatupato ina pai haere ake enei hangarau, ka pai ake ano nga mahi tinihanga.

"Ko te mea ke kai te matatau haere, kei te hangai haere ake nga taihara-ipurangi. Ko te whakaaro pea i roto i nga tau e tu mai ka tino whakaponohia nga mahi tinihanga ka tuhia ki te reo Maori."

E ai ki nga tatau hou rawa a te Tatauranga Whanau i heke te maha o nga kaikorero i te reo Maori mai i te 131,610 i te tau 2006, ki te 125,352 i tera tau. He 6.2 orau te hekenga o nga kaikorero i raro i nga tau 15, a, he tohu tenei kei te heke te tatau o nga matua e whangai ana i te reo ki a ratau pepi, tamariki hoki.

Hei ta Peter Merrigan o Te Tari Taiwhenua na te iti o te hunga e korero ana i te reo, e kaha ake ana nga mahi a nga kaitinihanga ki te toro atu ki te hunga e whaia ana e ratau.

I kite ia i etahi tauira rereke o tetahi karere i nga paetukutuku whaiaipo i roto tetahi i te reo Arepa.

Hei tana, "E tohu ana tera kei te rangahauhia e te tangata te hunga, te whenua ranei e arohia ana e ratau."

E ai ki a Mr Merrigan i whakamatau te karere ki te poapoa i te kaiwhiwhi ki te whakauru ki nga whitiwhitinga korero me te kaituku. Ko te whainga kia korerorero haere tonu, a, katahi ka puta nga tono putea.

Whiwhi ai te tari i nga purongo tinihanga maha ia ra mai i te iwi whanui, engari kaore ano kia kitea he karere tinihanga i roto i te reo Maori.

Kaore te mangai pirihamana i ki mena i raru he tangata na te tinihanga reo Maori engari i ki ia kei te rereke haere nga mahi taihara tuihono.

"Kaua rawa e urupare ki nga imera e ki ana kua wikitoria koe i te putea Rota kaore tenei i te tika, he tinihanga tenei ka mutu kaua rawa e tuku putea ki nga tangata i tawahi i tutaki koe i runga i te ipurangi."

I tirotiro te mangai o Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori a Gareth Seymour i nga imera e rua. Ko tana whakatau: "Kei te tino he nga whakamaoritanga."

- NZ Herald

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