Breaking New Ground in Language Revitalisation

Published: Mon 4 Jul 2016 05:24 PM
Media release
4 July 2016
Breaking New Ground in Language Revitalisation
Technology takes language revitalisation into exciting new realms, says Steven Renata, CEO of hi-tech leader Kiwa Digital, on the launch of the company’s latest innovation today.
The project, a digital resource for deaf Māori students, was launched by Education Minister Hekia Parata at the start of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
“The Story of Rūaumoko is the first-ever digital book for deaf Māori students. It tells the story of Rūaumoko, the god of earthquakes and volcanoes, narrated by students from Kelston Deaf Education Centre in te reo Māori, New Zealand Sign Language and English,” Ms Parata said in launching the resource.
Produced as an educational resource, Rūaumoko - The Rumbling Voice was built over an intensive 5 day workshop held in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Kelston Deaf Education Centre, CORE Education Ltd, and KIWA Digital.
The story follows the whakapapa of Te Kore, Rangi and Papa and their separation, Rūaumoko, and the battle of his brothers where he sent earthquakes to signal his feelings about the separation. The narrator explains the connection with the deaf community and their identification with the way Rūaumoko sends vibrations through the ground to gain the attention of others, similar to the way they may need to.
The story familarises the deaf students with their whakapapa and gives them the sense they are associated with one of Ngā Atua Māori, demonstrating they are powerful and valued.
The guiding principle in creation of the resource was the students’ needs. Stephanie Awheto, of Ngāti Ruanui/Taranaki descent, the senior NZSL English-Māori interpreter in New Zealand, was engaged to help interpret the language and interests of the deaf students involved.
Ms Awheto, who is active in supporting Māori Deaf development activities and in mentoring trilingual Māori interpreters, said today, “Rūaumoko is a story told by deaf students through their eyes, how they made sense of it. This is an amazing resource.“
Reaction from students at Kelston Deaf Education Centre speaks volumes:
“Describes the Māori part of deaf culture, never seen anything like this before”
“Makes it comfortable for other people to understand us”
“Like it lots, interesting to see Māori culture, so cool.”
“Hearing people can also use it, we will all be equal.”
“The app breaks new ground in language revitalisation, interpreting the world of a deaf Māori student through art, storytelling, and mobile technology” said Renata.
“We see in the students’ reaction how the app validates the importance of Te Reo Māori in their lives and for all New Zealanders. This shift in societal values is now recognised as the key factor in language revitalisation.”
The project opens a week of promotions for Kiwa Digital. The company plans to showcase one aspect of its work each day of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, with promotions that include making the apps free for that day.
About Rūaumoko - The Rumbling Voice
The app is available in iOS and Android formats and is free to download. Links to download the app and Teacher Resources are on the Ministry of Education’s site: http:// Sample images from the creation of the resource are attached, further images and video are available.
About Kiwa Digital Ltd
Kiwa works with indigenous groups around the world, using technology to preserve language and knowledge in formats that are relevant and accessible. In 2015 the company received the ICT award at Ngā Tohu Reo Māori for excellence and long-term commitment to te reo Māori. For more see

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