Te reo Māori keyboard launches to drive inclusivity, diversity and digital use of te reo Māori

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WELLINGTON, Monday: A te Maori reo Māori keyboard project has been launched by PB Tech with support from Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Puni Kōkiri.

The project will launch in Wellington this Thursday (15 September) as part of Māori Language Week, and aims to increase inclusivity and diversity and help promote digital use of te reo Māori.

Major technology companies Microsoft and Google are throwing their support behind the initiative.

As well as providing physical keys for tohutō, or macrons, which require a combination of keys on a standard QWERTY keyboard, the te reo Māori keyboard includes single keys for frequently used Māori terms and te reo naming of keys such as enter (tomo).

In conjunction with the te reo Māori keyboard project a te reo spell checker is also in development.

Standardising te reo typing
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Hine and Te Whānau a-Apanui) said: “The keyboard, which enables users to toggle between a standard QWERTY keyboard and te reo, aims to become a standard throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The Commission has a stated goal of achieving one million speakers of te reo Māori by 2040.

Ngahiwi Apanui: “The te reo keyboard project is a new and important way we can continue our campaign to normalise te reo Māori in everyday life.”

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori has engaged with PB Tech for two years and additional support to the project has been provided by Te Puni Kōkiri.

Simple switch with big ramifications’
Peter Bull, head of government & healthcare for PB Tech, said: “The beauty of this keyboard is that users can rapidly switch between a standard QWERTY keyboard and the te reo māori keyboard.

“The beauty of this keyboard is that users can rapidly switch between a standard QWERTY keyboard and the te reo Māori keyboard.”

“If you don’t press the button that turns it from normal QWERTY to te reo you lose nothing, as it operates just as a conventional keyboard. But if you are a te reo keyboardist, you push that button and instead of having to make two or three keystrokes for a Māori vowel, it happens in one.”

PB Tech will be offering the device in three forms – as a standalone keyboard, as a conventional laptop, and as a modification to existing keyboards and laptops.

The official launch event will see devices from Google, Microsoft, HP, Asus, and Dell with the Te Reo Māori Keyboard all showcased.

Setting the standard
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Puni Kōkiri have looked at te reo Māori keyboards over a number of years, and have partnered with PB Tech who started working on this initiative more than four years ago.

“The technology challenges involved were relatively minor. The issue was in ensuring it was done appropriately and in conjunction with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori,” says Bull.

Bull, who spearheaded the project, says the offering feeds into PB Tech’s ongoing community and sustainability initiatives, including the recycling of over 30,000 devices back into the New Zealand economy last year.

“We are trying to do smart things that support government, healthcare and regional councils, and the Te Reo Māori Keyboard Project fits in with that.”

About Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori – Māori Language Commission
Te Taura Whiri exists to revitalise te reo Māori. Set up under the Māori Language Act 1987 and continued under Te Ture Reo Māori 2016 it promotes the use of Māori as a living language and as an ordinary means of communication.

An independent crown entity the commission coordinates the Crown’s Māori language strategy; promotes, celebrate and encourages more people to support and speak te reo; helps organisations to develop language plans; carries out and commissions research; examines and registers translators and interpreters; tests proficiency levels; ensures te reo remain a living language in a changing world; and reports to the Minister for Māori Development.

About PB Tech
Founded in 1993 and 100% New Zealand owned, PB Tech is a large New Zealand’s computing hardware reseller with stores and service centres throughout the country and a team of over 800 staff.

In addition to our retail and service locations, PB Tech is an All-of-Government provider, and has dedicated Business, Education, Wholesale, Government, Health and Service divisions operating from our 10,000+ square metre head office and distribution centre in Manukau, Auckland

Over the last 30+ years, we’ve worked hard to build a trusted reputation as a leading supplier of technology products and services for home, business and the public sector, and count many of New Zealand’s largest companies, government departments and educational institutes as our customers.

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