1 Jul 2003

NZ Maori to help preserve Polynesian languages

6:03 pm on 1 July 2003

The Maori Language Commission in New Zealand, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori, is offering free new internet dictionary software to Polynesian nations.

The Commission has been working on the Matapuna Dictionary Database System, for three years and has completed it in time to present it to 12 country representatives at the Polynesian Language conference in Wellington.

The Commission's chief executive, Haami Piripi, says they are offering the software because they don't want the Pacific Islands to suffer the same fate as Maori.

"A lot of our elders died and we haven't really captured as much language information off them as we could have. We think there's a great opportunity now for islands who have still got a strong cultural infrastructure to begin to gather the information now, and store it and develop it for use by language learners and scholars."

Niuean MP Va'aiga Tukuitonga says the offer is much appreciated because her country has done work to compile dictionary information but could not afford to print it.