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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore to tātou waka e ū ki uta

Māori Technology glossary


Coping saw: kani ānau 


Pliers: kūmau 


Hack saw: kani maitai

Trident High School is working with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission to translate common Technology terms into words in te reo Māori. This exciting collaboration is increasing the vocabulary of the Māori language while improving the integration of Māori into Technology subjects.

Trident High School is a decile 5 school in Whakatane with a role of 1,200 students. The school has a mix of 53% European and 47% Māori with many students coming to the school from Māori immersion schools in the larger Whakatane area.

Technology HOD Steve Thornton explains that the Māori Technology glossary is just one of many initiatives put into place by the school’s Technology Department as part of a school-wide focus to improve literacy at Trident in 2012. This focus has also been informed by the Ministry's Ka Hikitia programme and the ERO report on the success of Māori in schools.

“At a department meeting one of the ideas we came up with was to label our equipment and processes in dual language, and that’s something I took a leadership role in,” Steve says. “So I looked in the Māori dictionary and found hammer, chisel and saw but when I looked for socket set, hacksaw, tenant saw, pliers, and many of the basic tools we use, there was nothing in the system that we could use.”

Steve talked to Trident’s Head of Māori Jimmy Maclean who put him in touch with staff at Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission in Wellington, who were excited by the project’s potential.

“They were absolutely delighted someone had picked up on this because as far as they knew it had never been done before and they thought it was really important. From there, the whole idea has snowballed and we now have an excellent working relationship with them.”

In June 2012, Steve started working with the The Māori Language Commission and the Technology Department at Trident to systematically develop and translate a list of fundamental Technology terms into te reo Māori.

Steve describes the process as a true team effort, with six members of his Technology team contributing to the project. “I asked my teachers and their specialist departments to give me a list of words they wanted to use. I have since been formulating those and emailing about 30 words each time from one of our Technology areas such as Wood, Metal, Food or Fabric. The Commission then spends about a fortnight translating those into entirely new Māori words.”

Steve explains that the translation process is extremely involved. “When words are added to some languages they may just add the European word, but staff at the Commission are very keen on going back and finding the derivative of these words and actually creating a new, purely Māori word that fits into their system.”

As some of the terms are very specific to Technology, Steve often plays an integral role in this process. “ Commission staff are very precise with the translations. For example, they considered using the same word for a wood brace and a hand drill. The first is a traditional woodworking tool used only with wood while the hand drill is a more modern tool which can be used on wood, metal and plastic. Once I gave them a better definition of each, they really wanted to define the differences using subtleties in the language.”

What Next

The commission have now created over 100 new Māori translations of generic tools. Trident staff have since introduced these terms to the Technology workrooms, and have plans to integrate them further into their larger Technology programme planning.

The response to the project from students, parents, teachers and the wider community has been extremely positive. “We have a very supportive and caring society here in Whakatane and a strong Māori group who have a large input, so it’s a wonderful place to get this type of project started and accepted,” Steve says.

Eventually Steve would like to translate more complicated concepts within Technology but acknowledges that this may take a while. “I would like to look later at some of the processes we use in Technology, but a lot of work goes into creating these new words and we understand it will take time to produce a comprehensive list of terms.”

Steve and the Commission are also working with Technology Online to add the translations to the Technology Online glossary. In the meantime the terms are available in the attachments below:

Māori Glossary - Food Technology (PDF, 50 KB)

Māori Glossary - Textiles (PDF, 49 KB)

Māori Glossary - Tools (PDF, 52 KB)

Māori Glossary - Tools (2) (PDF, 68 KB)

“This gives this work more exposure. Schools that have downloaded that glossary can use the new terms in Technology or put it into their own te reo Māori system, so they will have this dual facility of using the language we are giving them.”


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