Maori culture or at least a translation of its ancient legends has inspired a lot of modern films including the 2016 hit-film Moana.

The Maori language (Te Reo Maori) is spoken by more than 200,000 people across the globe.

While the majority of Maori speakers can be found in New Zealand – where the tribe makes up a sizable part of the population – Maori communities exist all over the world.

One of the main debates that exist around the Maori language tries to justify if the dialect is dead or reviving.

Let’s look at a brief history of the Maori language:

Brief History of the Maori Language

In the early part of the 20th century, Te Reo Maori almost died as more European settlers flooded the regions of New Zealand.

The newly migrated settlers set up measures that forced the locals to learn and speak English.

Although the effects were slow, this act pushed the remote Maori communities into isolation, far from urban centers and modern schools.

Te Reo Maori has struggled to remain relevant ever since.

Before the arrival of European Settlers

Maori was the dominant language of New Zealand long before European settlers arrived in the nation.

The language was used for communication and trade across the major islands.

As more settlers moved in, native Maori speakers were slowly sidelined in favor of English speakers and traders.

With time, Maori speakers became so few that the language was thought to be dying out.

Where is the Maori Language Spoken?

Contrary to popular belief, Maori is not just spoken in New Zealand.

The language is spoken by most adult Maori individuals, with more than 43% stating that they use it in daily interactions.

The majority of speakers are found in New Zealand, especially on the North Islands with Auckland serving as a major center for its speakers.

Significant numbers of native speakers can also be found in Australia, Hawaii, and the greater Polynesian islands such as Tahiti and Cook Islands.

Is Maori an Endangered Language?

Maori was ruled as a dying language up until the middle of the 20th century, but this is no longer the case.

The big question is: how does a language come back from ‘irrelevancy?’

Well, Maori was never irrelevant at all. Before the arrival of English, Maori was the ‘national language’ of the island.

As of 2013, more than 3.7% of New Zealand’s population spoke the language at home.

The government of the country wants to increase the number of Maori speakers to 20% by 2040.

It is clear that Maori is having a revival across the island, and it is because of these factors:

  • The increased activity of the native speakers.
  • Legislative measures by the New Zealand government (such as recognizing Maori as a national language)
  • Avenues such as art and global films (like the Disney production of Moana that was translated to Maori) are also increasing the awareness of the language.

Maori translations on the big screen are done with the help of elders and government bodies to ensure an accurate depiction of the culture.

This is with the hopes of inspiring the younger generation to take up the language.

Despite these efforts to keep Maori alive, the aging number of native speakers is undeniable.

The New Zealand government hopes to have the language taught in all schools by 2025.

maori translation

Translating Content to Maori

Maori did not have an alphabet or written numbers for a very long time.

In the 1800s, the first missionaries worked with local leaders to create a written form of the language.

For this reason, Maori ended up borrowing some words from the English language.

Translating content to Maori today is much easier thanks to the invention of translation software.

There are also multiple books, outsourcing websites, and applications that offer Maori translation services.

Even large corporations have joined the government’s initiatives to help improve translation services, with Microsoft adding Maori applications to its wide range of services.

What Type of Content Should you Translate to Maori?

It is important to observe context and cultural cues when translating content to Maori.

There are many English words that might not exist in Maori, and vice versa.

A lot of communication is based on context, and as a translator, you should approach each statement carefully.

Maori, for instance, contains five vowels and ten consonants. This language used reduplication and modification to increase intensity depending on the topic of conversation.

Tips/ Practices for Maori Translation

One of the first lessons you learn when translating is that languages use different iterations to refer to gender.

In the case of English, the statement would be: “s/he went outside.”

In Maori, there would be no specific form to express the gender of the subject in this situation. The language would, instead, use a general term to refer to a subject.

Neither gender nor subject/object distinction exists in the Maori language.

And this is not the only rule of translating content.

It’s not enough to simply translate content – you need to get the cultural cues and context right. Native translation is important both in business and entertainment.

Anthony Burgess once said, “Translation is not a matter of words. It is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture”.

When settlers first arrived in New Zealand, Maori translation was essential for their survival and communication.

Today, native content translation can help your brand travel further and inspire more people to subscribe to your content.

It’s best to use a native speaker or an experienced expert when translating content to and from Maori.

You have a myriad of translation services at your disposal – professional translation companies, online service providers, as well as easy-to-use (but not always accurate) applications

Maori Translation Resources

A lot of companies offer different Maori translation and language services.

Some of the services you can get online include:

  • Document translation
  • Transcripts to and from Maori
  • Maori marketing and marketing communication services
  • Desktop publishing projects
  • Voiceovers and subtitling projects
  • Maori editing and proofreading services
  • Maori customer service solutions and localization of software and documentation.

You will come across expert and native Maori speakers online who can translate content in different industries including:

  • Healthcare
  • Legal
  • Banking and finance
  • Technology and science and many more

Depending on your budget and project scope, you can hire online translators or use translation software.

You can use direct translation software that works much like Google Translate: you type in the word or phrase you want to translate, and the online translator instantly gives you results.

If you are going for the free online translators, look for user reviews or anything else that can point to the software’s level of accuracy.

Maori Dictionary

This is an online version of a well-recognized international Te aka Maori-English, English-Maori Dictionary, and Index.

This resource provides quick and easy access to Maori words and phrases for those who wish to learn and translate the language.

It comes with encyclopedia-like entries such as native plants and animals, the solar system as well as traditional narratives and tribal groupings.

The dictionary is available online, as an application, and as a physical book.

Use the Maori dictionary.

Advantages of Online Translation Resources

Translation services can be costly, particularly when the language in question has a limited number of speakers.

Online translation software is free, easy to use, and with quick turnaround times.

You can also switch between multiple languages, and with the technology improving each day, who knows what online applications will accomplish in a few years?

The Downside of Translation Apps

Communication is about context.

Without context, it will be almost impossible to distinguish words that have the same meaning or pronunciation.

Online software doesn’t understand context, and some tend to have very low accuracy levels.

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Hiring a Maori Translator Online

There are a lot of websites offering Maori translation services online, which one do you pick?

Hiring a translator can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.

We have a brief cheat sheet for you. Look at the following things before you hire a translator:

  • Previous client reviews

A good reputation speaks for itself. When hiring a freelance Maori translator online, look at their track record.

  • Level of experience

How long have they been translating content? It is not enough for the professional to be a native Maori speaker. They also need to speak good English interchangeably.

A Maori translation freelancer can cost you, but not as much as poor quality translations will.

If you choose to hire cheap, keep in mind that you do get what you pay for. However, not all good translators are overpriced. You can get decent service regardless of your budget.

  • Previous samples

Ensure the freelancer you hire knows how to format, edit, and proof their work for errors.

You should also try to make contact, either through video or text messaging, just to make sure you are on the same page with the translator you hire.

The best way to outsource your Maori translation project is through a reputable agency or website.

Keep Translating

As the cultural influence of Maori culture continues to extend across the globe through films such as Moana, the need to learn and translate Maori to other languages also continues to grow.

Sporting events such as rugby where teams from Polynesia perform the haka dance before trouncing opponents are also gaining popularity.

Lastly, people are embracing Maori inspired body artwork in the form of tattoos, and this means one thing:

Maori translation is good for everybody.

And if you are going to translate content, make sure you do it well. Always observe accuracy, context, and cultural cues in content translation.

Get in touch with the best Maori translation experts today!