Te reo me te hangarau
14 September 2021
Ko te tikanga o Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, ko te whakatairanga me te tiaki i te reo, te whakaora me te whakawātea i te reo, me te whakapūmau i te reo kia ita i roto i te reo o ia rā o Aotearoa: He āwhinatanga te hangarau e uru ana ki ngā hiahia o te hapori reo Māori.
E mahi tahi ana ngā kairangahau i Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha Waipapa Taumata Rau puta noa i ētahi atu kaupapa ako i runga i ngā kaupapa whakawhanake i ngā utauta reo i tēnei wāhanga. Ka uru ki ēnei ko tētahi utauta whakahua kupu reo Māori (MPAi) me te whanaketanga o tētahi pūnaha hangaoro reo Māori me te tuhi-ki-te-reo.
He ākonga tohu kairangi a Isebella Shields (Ngāti Porou) e mahi ana ki te Te Kura Pūhanga Hiko, Rorohiko me te Pūmanawa, ā, he mema o te Rōpū Rangahau Whakatika Kōrero o Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau e mahi ana i runga i ēnei kaupapa.
"Tūturu he matea mō te hangarau reo Māori," tā Isabella. "Kei roto te hangarau i ō tātou tauoranga o ia rā, ā, waihoki he nui ake te pānga ki ā tātou rangatahi. E wātea ake ai te reo Māori, me mahi tātou i roto i tēnei wāhi ka tika."
"Engari he mea nui tonu kia tutuki ngā hiahia o te hapori reo Māori i ngā hangarau e hangaia ana. He kawenga tō mātou ki te whakaputa i ngā utauta kounga, ā, kia tika rawa - ki te hē i a mātou he mate kē tēnā," tāna kī. "Kāore he wāhanga o te tūkino anō i te reo Māori."
Ko te kaupapa reo motuhake e rangahauhia ana e Isabella ko te oro 'r' i roto i te reo.
"Ahakoa te kōrero a ētahi he 'r' te 'r', he uaua ake te whakatinanatanga. Ka rongo tātou i ngā oro rerekē o te 'r' i tā te reo Māori whakahua i te 'r' - ā, tērā hoki ngā momo whakahua hē i te 'r' o te reo Māori; otirā ko te mea matua ko te 'r' e whakamahia ana e tātou i te reo Ingarihi o Aotearoa. He uaua ki te hunga ako i te reo te 'r' a te Māori, ā, nā tēnei, kāore tōna rite i te reo Ingarihi," tāna kōrero.
E tūmanako ana a Isabella mā ana rangahau e āwhina ki te hiki i te utauta whakahua MPAi me te whai wāhi ki te pūnaha āhukahuka reo aunoa.
"He iti rawa te whai rauemi o te reo Māori, ā, he nui tonu te mahi kei mua i a mātou i mua o te whakaputa i tētahi mea pēnei i te kaiāwhina reo.
"Engari he tūturu ake nei te hira o tēnei mahi, pērā tonu ki te mōrearea o te reo Māori i mua, me te rā nei, he tūturu hoki tērā," tāna i kī.
Mā te mahi i runga i ngā hōtaka e pā ana ki te reo, e whai hononga ana ngā aronga reo o Isabella ki ōna pūkenga i te pūhanga hiko me te tukatuka tohu. Ko tana kaupapa tuatahi i te rangahau reo kōrero ko te tūhura tōmua o ngā orooro o te kapa haka.
"I mōhio ahau koinei te momo mahi i te hiahia au ki te whai. He hua tō te whakamoe i aku pūkenga ki tēnei mahi, engari mōku ko te mea nui kē ko te whai wāhitanga o ēnei kaupapa rangahau ki te whakarauoratanga o te reo Māori."
Te reo and technology
Māori Language Week is about promoting and protecting te reo, keeping the language alive and accessible, and anchoring it more firmly into Aotearoa’s everyday vernacular: Technology that fits what the Māori language community wants will help.
Researchers at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering are working with colleagues across other disciplines on projects to develop language tools in this area. These include a Māori language pronunciation tool (MPAi) and the development of a synthesised Māori voice and text-to-speech system.
Isabella Shields (Ngāti Porou) is a PhD student working in the faculty’s Department of Electrical, Computer and Software Engineering and a member of the University of Auckland Speech Research Group working on these projects.
“There is definitely a need for Māori-language technology,” says Isabella. “Technology permeates our day-to-day life and is even more relevant for younger people. To make te reo Māori as accessible as possible we need to be working in this area.”
"But it is important that the technology being produced is what the Māori language community wants. We have a responsibility to produce quality tools and to get things right – we can’t afford to mess things up,” she says. “There’s no space for more damage to te reo Māori.”
Isabella’s particular area of Māori language research is on the ‘r’ sound in te reo.
“While some might say an ‘r’ is an ‘r’, the reality is more complicated. We can perceive several different ‘r’ sounds in the te reo Māori ‘r’ – and there are also widely accepted wrong ways to produce te reo Māori ‘r’; most notably, the ‘r’ we use in New Zealand English. The Māori ‘r’ can be difficult for second-language learners of the language for this reason as there is no direct match for it in English,” she says.
Isabella is hoping her research will help improve the MPAi pronunciation tool and contribute to an automated speech recognition system.
“Māori is an under-resourced language and we have a lot of groundwork left to do before we can produce something like a voice assistant.
“But the importance of this work is very real, just like the threat to te reo Māori in the past and today is very real,” she says.
Working on the te reo related research projects links Isabella’s language and linguistic interests with her skills in electrical engineering and signal processing. Her first project in speech research was a preliminary investigation into the acoustics of kapa haka.
“I knew then that this was the type of work I wanted to do. Being able to marry my skills was ideal, but for me, the crucial appeal is the contribution of these research projects to Māori language revitalisation.”
Alison Sims | Media adviser
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