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Digital Māori dictionary partners with Dynamo6 to overhaul app

By Nick Forrester, 15 Sep 2021

In time for Māori language week next week, the Te Murumāra Foundation has partnered with IT company Dynamo6 to enhance the Te Aka Māori Dictionary app, with an aim to achieve greater reach and engagement.

Upgrades to the app include new audio clips pronouncing 24,000 words in te reo Māori, as well as the ability to filter results by idioms, phrases, proverbs and loan words and save definitions to a favourites list. 

The app has also seen an overhaul to allow for faster online searches for translation from English to Māori and vice versa. It also now offers both iOS and Android versions.

Te Murumāra Foundation’s Peter Moorfield, who is the son of the dictionary’s late founder, Professor John C. Moorfield, says it’s important that user-friendly technology is utilised properly to enrich Aotearoa’s native language.  

“The Te Aka Māori Dictionary is the authoritative resource for accurate Māori definitions,” says Moorfield. 

“It forms part of the well-known Te Whanake language resources led by Te Murumāra Foundation and usage of the app and support of our foundation helps to preserve the language, an effort that will be getting well-deserved attention during the nation’s annual Māori Language Week.”

Within a week of being updated in the app store in early August, the app was trending as #2 in the paid-for app category. To date, the app has received over 25,000 installs, with an average of 170,000 searches each day. 

“Language is a way people connect to the world around them, it’s a way to understand and communicate history and culture,” adds Moorfield.

“The Te Muramāra Foundation has revitalised the app to ensure there is an authoritative Māori to English language resource available for all. 

“The new app also continues and extends an important project to my father, the Te Whanake language resources.”

While fluency in te reo is trending upwards, the Te Murumāra Foundation aims to increase fluency even more. According to results from Te Kupenga (Māori wellbeing survey) conducted by Stats NZ in 2018, about one in six  Māori adults can speak in te reo Māori, and about 30% can understand the language. Fluency rates among non-Māori are around 1%. 

Dynamo6 founder and executive director Igor Matich says it’s been a privilege to lend the company’s digital capability to Te Murumāra Foundation. 

“Delivering an important app upgrade that helps ensure that te reo can be shared with the next generation and budding linguists across the world.” 

The app contains over 24,000 Māori word entries. To date, the top five searched words are: ngā mihi (acknowledgements), whānau, Māori, Mōrena (good morning), and motu (island, country, land, nation).

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