Regional | ChatGPT

Councillor shocked by mayoral ruling to use ChatGPT to translate Kaipara District’s annual plan into Māori

Is there a place for generative AI such as ChatGPT? And what becomes of te reo Māori?

The Kaipara District Council attempted to use artificial intelligence to translate one of its official publications. But the move has been criticised over the potential cultural implications and accuracy of the process.

The Kaipara District Council’s release of its annual plan saw the removal of te reo, with a second bilingual version utilising ChatGPT to be released.

Kaipara councillor Pera Paniora says the council is trying to use AI in an attempt to not consult with mana whenua.

Paniora says the original idea was to have a bilingual version of the plan but, following instructions from Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson, an English-only version was released.

“It would have a bilingual flavour. So there would be te reo throughout the document, it wasn’t until an eagle-eyed ratepayer noticed the uploaded version of the annual plan without te reo in it.

“You can’t replace consultation with people, you know mana whenua, you can not substitute that with artificial intelligence.

Lack of guidelines

That’s brought a warning from the AI Forum, a group of AI leaders in New Zealand and its Māori advisory board, on the ethical use of generative AI in translating languages.

Karaitia Taiuru says while the genie is already out of the bottle in terms of AI being here to stay, but says there is a clear lack of guidelines around its use, particularly in regards to Te Reo Māori.

“Artificial Intelligence is here already. There’s a whole lot of pros and a whole lot of cons. There are no artificial intelligence guidelines or recommended ethics in regards to any sort of language translation.”

“In my opinion, we could see artificial intelligence becoming the new te reo Māori teachers of the future. So that creates some major issues for our kaiako, for people who make a living from te reo.”

Te Ao Māori News asked the mayor for comment and in a statement Jepson said: “To understand the possible use of AI technology, an informal translation test was carried out. The text was reviewed internally by staff and externally via a Māori language expert.

“Feedback was that, if it were to be utilised, there would need to be changes to reflect correct wording and local language characteristics.

“We have been clear that if AI were to be used, any translation would need to be reviewed appropriately by Māori language experts. Council staff will ensure best practice is followed with AI if it is used in our external documents. We have also advised that iwi would be asked to review any bilingual documents.”