Safely plug into te reo Māori with ReoAko.

November 17, 2022
David Read

During one of my first korero about joining the Octave team earlier this year, I was told about a great product they had collaborated on with Te Māngai Pāho and Te Aka Māori Dictionary: Reoako — a te reo Māori language plugin. As you can imagine, I couldn’t wait to get started, but I also felt a little out of my comfort zone.

Let’s admit it, learning a new language or advancing your vocabulary can be terrifying, especially without the proper [@tautoko] tautoko [@tautoko].

Living in a country where you speak or use only one of the official languages — as you may know, we have three official languages: Te reo Māori, New Zealand Sign language, and English — is a missed opportunity to unlock a world of knowledge, custom and expression.

While being scary, taking the first steps or pushing the needle a little further can be rewarding and unlock profound experiences. Placing these experiences in the hearts and minds of the people that interact with your brand or organisation through your website is a wonderful gift. And it shows commitment to the cultural diversity that the people of Aotearoa, New Zealand want to see thriving.

This opportunity became apparent while the Octave team were collaborating with Te Papa on their Te Taiao Nature exhibition, which features a series of digital labels used to tell rich stories in English and Māori. During this project, an interactive experience was born, showcasing the taonga of te taiao with another taonga, te reo Māori.

It didn’t stop there. A partnership was formed to realise the potential of this mahi and to ensure the proper support and kaitiakitanga were in place for its new journey contributing to the revitalisation of te reo Māori. Te Māngai Pāho and Octave worked together to create ReoAko: a language plugin for te reo Māori. Recently, they joined forces with Te Murumāra Foundation to integrate the wealth of translations and recordings in the Te Aka Māori Dictionary into the plugin.

Wait a minute. It’s probably a good point to mention that I am pakeha, and my knowledge of [@tikanga] tikanga [@tikanga] and te reo Māori is fledgling at best. I have a lot to learn. 

Also, that Octave does not think of itself as a bicultural organisation. Through partnerships, collaborations and co-design, we help te ao Māori worldviews and ideation proliferate and for knowledge and opportunity to reach communities and make change for a better Aotearoa. We know what we are good at and bring it to the table while making room for our partners to do the same.

Most organisations and businesses in our country are somewhere on the journey of biculturalism and bilingual integration. And culturally supported and practical solutions are what they need.

This is the spirit and environment in which ReoAko was conceived. It was made for people like ourselves who are learning what it truly means to exist in a bicultural world each day. Like us, they want to learn and grow in a supportive and informed way.

“But it’s just a plugin”, I hear you say. How does it do these things?

ReoAko is simple but impactful. Here are a few of the main features.

Get started quickly and safely

This intuitive software can be deployed, without fuss, on most commonly used CMS platforms. Behind the scenes of the simple user interface is a carefully curated list of kupu Māori and a support structure to ensure words can be used in the proper context.

ReoAko interface

Users of your website can click on [@kupu] kupu [@kupu] Māori created by the ReoAko plugin to listen to the words spoken in te reo and view the English translation.

Content Management System

ReoAko is designed to integrate into content management systems to enable you to translate English words into kupu Māori on your website easily.

Te reo Māori library

ReoAko contains a curated list of translations selected from the Te Aka Māori Language Dictionary. The size of the library can grow with your organisational capability and content needs.

Today, te reo Māori is more present in our day to day landscape than it has been since the first half of the last century. But there’s still a long way to go before it is truly revitalised. That’s why ReoAko was created. To support website users to listen, learn, and use te reo Māori.

To learn more about how to play a part in the revitalisation of te reo Māori in Aotearoa, New Zealand, visit reoako.nz

If you’re keen to learn about how ReoAko could work with your website and organisation, email logan@octave.nz