A school, and trust from Whangārei and a Far North media organisation are finalists in the annual Māori Language Awards.

The Māori Language Commission's 15th Ngā Tohu Reo Māori, the National Māori Language Awards, are being held at Te Papa on Friday.

Three Northland groups are among the 36 finalists which have been selected from more
than 150 nominations, the highest number received since the awards began in 2004.

Whangārei Girls' High School is a finalist in the Māori Language Week category for organising the city's first Māori Language Week parade; Te Hiku Media is a finalist in the New Zealand Community category for Korero Māori, a project they started to teach machines te reo Māori; and Te Puna o Te Ao Mārama Trust, which provides courses in te reo Māori and is behind the Te Reo Māori Cafe held at The Old Stone Butter Factory in Whangārei, has also been nominated in the New Zealand Community category.


Moana-Aroha Henry, Whangārei Girls' High School kaiako Māori (Māori teacher), said the school didn't even know it had been nominated in the awards, so when it found out was a finalist it was "exciting".

"It's a great acknowledgement of the huge success we had with the hikoi. We've had really good feedback from all those that participated, and even those that didn't participate but heard about it," she said.

The Māori Language Week parade, held in September, saw thousands of people march through the streets of Whangārei to celebrate te reo Māori. Henry said being a finalist was also a recognition of the work the students put in.

"To just to see their efforts, because they ran the barbecue and helped usher the crowd for safety management, being acknowledged was really good," she said.

Peter-Lucas Jones, general manager of Te Hiku Media, said was very excited about being a finalist.

"Particularly because our project is Māori Language Voice recognition. We ran a successful crowd-sourcing campaign working with Māori language speaking communities to capture Māori language utterances to teach computers how to speak Māori, and so from our point of view it's a celebration of everyone who has been involved in the project."

There is now a website koreromaori.io where they have a programme which can transcribe spoken Māori language to text.

"These types of projects are generally led by academics and researches and our project is very different in that it's not a research project it's a development and innovation project which is haukāinga (home people) led."


The Northern Advocate was unable to contact Te Puna o Te Ao Mārama Trust by edition time.