Te reo Māori going global

By Jessica Tyson

A language app with almost 10 million users has added te reo Māori to its collection today to help revitalise the language and share it worldwide.

The app, which is named Drops, is the first major multi-language app to add the language and includes 2,000 words in Māori from categories including food, objects and transportation.

When using the app, people can match an image and the corresponding word with the swipe of a finger to help users learn new words easily.

Drops co-founder and chief executive Daniel Farkas decided to include te reo Māori following a stark period for the revitalisation of the language.

A gradual decline in speakers of te reo was seen in 2013 census data, causing concern among promoters of New Zealand's native language. 

"Helping to preserve and promote smaller languages around the world is a cause very close to my heart, so it's been exciting to see New Zealand's genuine interest in the revitalisation," says Farkas.

"Te reo Māori has a rich history, with words and phrases uniquely tied to the values embedded in their culture."

Users can match an image and the corresponding word with the swipe of a finger.

Farkas says he worked with native translators to create the app, including Māori broadcaster, Te Aniwa Hurihanganui, whose commentary can be heard throughout.

With millions of users, Hurihanganui says the app will “not only give New Zealanders the chance to learn our native tongue; they bring our beautiful language to people across the world."

Farkas says Drops, which won Google's Best App of 2018 award, recently launched Hawaiian and Icelandic versions and the responses have been “incredible”.

“We're hoping we will get a similar reception with the introduction of te reo Māori.  There are already wonderful initiatives in effect in New Zealand to preserve the Māori language and we're keen to do our bit in supporting its resurgence with Māori on Drops.”

The app is available for iOS and Android.