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Stuff, Straker & Microsoft foster te reo Maori with AI
Wed, 27th Mar 2024

Stuff, Straker, and Microsoft have announced their partnership aimed at driving an increase in the number of articles available in te reo Maori. The program, a unique blend of technological innovation and linguistic preservation, will bolster the revitalisation of this language, enabling it to be normalised across all of Stuff's digital platforms and publications.

Through the participation of Microsoft and Straker, the technology behind this pilot programme combines the innovation of artificial intelligence (AI) with human translation to facilitate large-scale content translation. Before reaching the audience, all translations will undergo rigorous quality checks by translators and editorial staff.

Carmen Parahi, Stuffs Pou Tiaki Matua, comments, "Bilingual articles aren't new at Stuff, we've been producing them for years. But this is the first time we will be using AI to translate even more articles at scale, which will be quality-checked by a human translator and our editorial team before being published."

Over the past years, Stuff has demonstrated a rising degree of te reo Maori use, introducing bilingual product titles, news, blogs, video and audio content. Its initiatives are aided by the support of Te Taura Whiri i te reo Maori, the Maori Language Commission, and NZ On Air Irirangi Te Motu. Nevertheless, the process was time-additive, which restricted the translation of live or breaking news. Achievement rose from one to two articles weekly to one or two daily within all the English content published each day.

Parahi expresses their commitment to the cause, "We've made it very clear we support the revitalisation of te reo Maori, a taonga and official language of New Zealand. Our journey started with introducing macrons on Maori words, and continues with our ability to now scale our te reo Maori capability with AI."

Laura Maxwell, Stuff Group Chief Executive, shares, "We're pleased to be working with Straker and Microsoft on developing the te reo Maori translation tool. It means our audience will be able to engage with more bilingual Maori and English articles every day."

Grant Straker, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Straker describes the initiative as "an especially personal career highlight." He adds, "It means that today's generation of Maori and everyone that comes after will be able to engage with regular news content in their own language."

Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft Aotearoa New Zealand, emphasises the human-centric aspect of AI. "Artificial intelligence is the talk of almost every organisation these days, but it's not about how technology can do more than humans. It's about how this technology can do more with humans, for humans, and for the things that are important to us," she says.