• Mahi Rorohiko

last modified July 29, 2015 by strypey


He mihi atu 

Ko te mea tuatahi,

He mihi aroha ki tōku matua, kua timata tōku ako i Te Reo Māori i te pona, tēnā koe. 

He mihi mahana ki ōku kaiako i Te Reo i te kura tuarua, Ko Ross Paniora, Ko Craig Fransen, tēnā kōrua. 

He mihi nui ki ngā kaiako Reo Māori katoa o Aotearoa, tēnā koutou.

He mihi maioha ki te mahi o ngā rangatira o te Taura Whiri o Te Reo Māori, tēnā koutou.

He tangi tautoko tēnei ki ngā kaiārahi o ngā rōpu rorohiko, e tūtaki ana i te NZ Māori Internet Society,

E mahi tonu ana kia whakamau ngā kaupapa iho nei, tēnā koutou katoa.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora mō tātou kotoa. 

Tihei Mauriora!


General thoughts on Supporting Te Reo Māori Language and Dialects in Free Code Software 

Te Reo Māori advocates have done significant work over the past 20 years to build and advocate for the software tools which are needed to allow us to communicate in Te Reo Māori online. My focus is on supporting free code developers to make sure their software implement these tools, but also reducing the work involved, both for the developers themselves, and the maintainers of Te Reo digital resources.


I strongly support the idea of a single computer localization standard for our country, one which either acknowledges the name of the country in the indigenous language; Aotearoa, or the indigenous name and the European colonial name (Aotearoa/ New Zealand). This localization would:

  •  install both NZ English and Te Reo Māori  dictionaries, and use them in tandem for all applications, in recognition of the increasing number of loan words from Te Reo used in NZ English (eg place names and common words like wai for water, kai for food, hui for meeting, and mahi for work)
  • Give the user a choice between both sets of translations for user interfaces and help files (or both?); during installation, during login, and from a preferences menu.
  • install a keyboard layout which supports macrons for indicating long vowels in Te Reo Māori (ie ā,ē,ī,ō,ū, Ā,Ē,Ī,Ō,Ū), using the easier ALT-[vowel] and ALT-Shift-[vowel] methods used in GNOME, not the awkward Tilda-[vowel] method used in Windows.


In order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort by accredited translators, free code software developers who seek to provide localization need access to a standard digital dictionary of Te Reo Māori. Of course, there are existing digital dictionaries including the online version of Te Aka, and the LearningMedia digital Ngata dictionary1 , but this dictionary needs to: 

  • be developed under a libre license which allows it to be used with any software, either free code or proprietary
  • be developed on an open source platform, hosted on a server physically located in Aotearoa, where scholars and native speakers of Te Reo can discuss corrections and extensions to the dictionary. 
  • implement the standards defined by Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission), particularly the new words created for computer and internet concepts.
  • be extended to include the vocabulary of Reo-a-iwi (tribal dialects), tagged with their whakapapa (people and place of use), with each Reo-a-iwi having its own open source platform, hosted on a server physically located in the rohe (region) from which is comes.
  • include documentation of common mistakes (unnecessary transliterations, pidgin words backported into Te Reo) so that corrections can be suggested by dictionary software

Such a project may already be underway. Karaitiana Taiuru, a prominent advocate for Te Reo online who developed and maintains the Te Ngutu Kura spell checker dictionary, is working on an ambitious project called PapaKupu. According to Karaitiana, Professor Kevin Cannell, author of Aspell (and the Facebook in Māori plugin for Chrome)  "has been the major force behind the creation of the Māori Aspell file..."

A good list of existing printed dictionaries and other resources which would be references for such a project can can be found on maorilanguage.info

Rorohiko OS?

One project which could awhi and tautoko all of these efforts would be a Māori distribution of Linux/GNU. It could be as simple as a branded fork of one of the major distributions such as Ubuntu, or Fedora, or it could be assembled from scratch from existing components, starting with a design process that looks at how Māori think about computing, and how they want to interact with it.

Obviously, it would include all the above (an Aotearoa localisation, keyboard layout with macrons, Te Reo Māori translations and spell checkers), but it could also incorporate:

  • a user interface designed around tikanga and kaupapa Māori concepts (marae instead of desktop?)
  • a complete library of all the Te Reo dictionaries available under libre licenses, and a project to convince copyright holders and scholars to allow libre licensing of relevant work
  • Māori artwork in themes, sounds, sample music and video etc also under a libre license

    Awhina Atu (Helpful Tips)

    Tiki Tohutō (obtaining macrons)

    Below are tested methods for obtaining macros on various distributions of GNU/Linux. I have specified the distribution and version tested (think "make and model"). Where a specific Maori keyboard layout is not yet available, the same vowel macrons can be obtained by using the Latvia keyboard layout (and possibly the Esperanto keyboard [check this]).

    Instructions are available elsewhere for Windows (thanks to Kupu.Maori.nz)  and MacOSX (thanks to Stephen Cope of Kimihia.org.nz).

    If you are in a hurry and don't have time to tinker with your keyboard layout, or you're using a public computers, try the online keyboard, Type Māori Macrons.


    Debian (Squeeze)

    (Uses GNOME desktop)

      1. Click on your username, but before you enter your password and login, change your keyboard layout to Maori using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen. If this doesn't work:
      2. Login as usual 
      3. Go to: System > Preferences > Keyboard >
      4. Click the 'Layouts' tab, and click 'Add...'
      5. Click 'By Language' tab
      6. Click on the drop-down menu for language, scroll down to Maori, and click it
      7. Click the 'Add' button in the bottom-right, and click 'Close'
      8. Logout
      9. Retry 1.

    Peppermint (Two and Three

    (Based on Mint, which is based on Ubuntu, uses LXDE desktop)

      1. Click on Menu > Preferences > Keyboard Layout
      2. Scroll down to Latvia, and click 'Apply'.

    Problem is this only works until you logout, and then next time you log in, you have to do it again. Getting it to change permanently is a bit trickier, as it requires typing commands into the Terminal, but anyone can do it. Just follow along, step by step.

      1. Open a Terminal window (Click on Menu > Accessories > Terminal)
      2. type: cd /etc/default (this takes you into the folder called 'default' in the 'etc' folder)
      3. type: sudo gedit keyboard (this opens the keyboard layout text file /etc/default/keyboard in a Gedit Window)
      4. Find the entry which says XKBLAYOUT="us" and change it to say XKBLAYOUT="lv" (this changes to the Latvia keyboard layout which also uses the ALT-[vowel] method)
      5. Save and quit
      6. Reboot

    Thanks to Rich Roast on the Peppermint Forums for the tip on which file to edit.

    BLAG (14000)

    (based on Fedora, also uses GNOME)

    Click on your username, but before you enter your password and login, change your keyboard layout to Maori using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen.

     Trisquel (6.0 'Toutatis')

    (derived from Ubuntu, also uses GNOME)

    1. Click on your username, but before you enter your password and login, change your keyboard layout to Maori using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen. If this doesn't work:
    2. Login as usual 
    3. Click on the Trisquel logo to bring up the main menu, then click on System Settings, then Keyboard Layout
    4. Click the 'Layouts' tab, and click the + button
    5. In the 'Choose a Layout' window, scroll down to Maori, and click on it
    6. Click the 'Add' button in the bottom-right, and click 'Close'
    7. Logout
    8. Retry 1.
    1. for which Chris Burgess created Mozilla-compatible search plugins in 2005 (apparently no longer active)^