Indigenous | Māori Language Commission

Fresh insights from the Indigenous Language and Technology conference

Delegates at a biennial Indigenous Language and Technology Conference in Darwin, Australia have been hearing about Māori efforts to revitalise and protect the Māori language.

And Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui hopes that the work of other indigenous nations will provide new insights for the future.

The importance of community was a popular topic of discussion among all indigenous cultures.

“The voice of the community needs to be carefully heard by the government, and, if it doesn’t listen or pay attention, that government won’t be elected,” Apanui says.

Apanui spoke about strategies for indigenous communities to safeguard their language.

“Talking about legislation, if guardianship of our language is set in law, the government or anyone else can’t evade it. It is not to say that the government owns the language, it is more that they are a guardian of the language here in Aotearoa. This is what came out in the discussions.”

At the conference, Apanui also discussed the need to treat language learners with respect and kindness.

“Learners are really important because each new learner is the reason for your language to stay alive, and it’s not just learners that are in classes now, I’m talking about potential learners, people who may be thinking of learning the language but just need a little bit of a push to get into a class.”

Apanui hopes to bring fresh insights from the conference to the work of the Māori Language Commission here at home.