Earlier this month, the University of Auckland extended a bilingual language feature onto the main menu of their website. Te reo Māori has now been used in the titles of menu options in addition to their English translations, in line with the University’s initiative to revitalise the use of the indigenous language of New Zealand.
Web Manager Penny Collins has stated on the University’s website “that the collective had dedicated countless hours of mahi/work, taima/time and hui/meetings” in order for the feature to be developed correctly.
Michael Steedman (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Uri o Hau), University of Auckland’s Kaiarataki/Deputy-Pro-Vice-Chancellor Māori, stated that “as part of the plan we are aiming to raise the status of the language, promote learning of te reo and tikanga Māori and creating opportunities for the language to be seen and heard every day at the University”.
The plan in reference is the University Language Revitalisation Plan. It was endorsed by the University’s senior leadership team in August 2019 with three main goals outlined to be achieved:
The University website has further been noted to be one, if not the most important, way of communicating with current and future staff, students and stakeholders. In a recent news article on the website, it was claimed that the website itself had over five million users in 2020, therefore by mere exposure anyone visiting the website is able to expand their te reo Māori vocabulary. It is also highly beneficial for those who speak te reo Māori as a first language, making the website very accessible to a wider audience.
Another recent te reo Māori initiative was the language app Te Kūaha – The Doorway, which aids with te reo Māori in written and spoken form. It further connects to the University’s stated values, as the University has previously recognised that the language is fundamental in Māori culture and identity.
Younger New Zealanders have also demonstrated a keen interest in te reo Māori language learning, with the Ministry of Education stating that in 2020 over 30,000 secondary school students studied te reo as either a secondary or native language.
For further information, or to see the initiative in action, visit the University of Auckland website.