Better te reo Māori access for tamariki in the digital space

Image: Tamariki using the new te reo Māori keyboard

Tēnā koe me mōrena whānau. Typing this phrase is now easier than ever with the new te reo Māori keyboard on my Chromebook.

In collaboration with PB Tech and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori - Māori Language Commission - we’ve supported the development of a special localised Chromebook that offers a reo Māori keyboard. Reaching the milestone of 5000 laptops delivered to tamariki across the motu, this kaupapa was first launched during last year’s Wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week.

The goal of this mahi is to empower New Zealanders to more easily use te reo in the digital space. The Chromebooks offer both physical keys for tohutō (macrons), single keys for frequently used Māori terms and te reo naming of keys such as tomo (enter). Chromebook users can access the shortcuts through a simple Chrome extension, created by the ChromeOS languages team. This significantly reduces the current barriers to using macrons on a standard QWERTY keyboard.

Image: Te reo Māori keyboard

Caroline Rainsford, Country Director of Google New Zealand said “I’m so proud that we’re part of this kaupapa to provide greater accessibility and therefore utilisation of te reo Māori on Chromebooks, which are the number one laptop used by kura. It’s so important that our kids’ have greater opportunity to use te reo digitally and I know these laptops will continue to have a positive impact across the country.”

Stan Fosenbauer, PB Tech Head of Education said, “Aotearoa New Zealand is about inclusion and it’s important that we recognise our official languages and represent them in our devices, for our students. So far with the devices delivered to over 120 schools, the response has been overwhelming! The strength of our partnership with Google has shone throughout this project as we worked closely on timings and the development of new features. In the future we hope to include even more of our local IT industry in this kaupapa.” 

“This was an exciting initiative to be a part of, not only does the reo Māori keyboard support

normalising te reo Māori every day within Aotearoa, this particular initiative is focused around Rangatahi in kura, and integrating reo Māori into the IT sector. This is another valuable contribution to achieving one million speakers of te reo Māori by 2040.” said Ngahiwi Apanui, Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori.

Google also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Te Taura Whiri to identify mutual areas for collaboration towards advancing access to the Māori language features within Google products.

It’s important to Google that all Kiwis have access to technology and tools to thrive in a digital future, and Chromebooks are an important tool for learning for many of our youngest New Zealanders through education. The development of a unique keyboard for Kiwis is just another way we can make sure our devices work for all New Zealanders.