Led by Te Hiku Media in partnership with Dragonfly Data Science, our research will lead the revitalisation of minority and indigenous languages and the indigenisation of digital devices worldwide. Over the next seven years, our research programme will bring together world-leading data scientists from New Zealand, Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Māori communities and Mozilla in a unique collaboration to tackle this challenge.
Our proposal aims to establish a multilingual language platform to develop natural language processing tools and methods that will enable New Zealanders to engage with technology in the language they use or aspire to use every day. Starting with te reo Māori and New Zealand English, our program will ensure a New Zealand identity is firmly embedded in the digital world. We will also extend into the Pacific and work with Samoan and Hawaiian communities. Our tools will make it possible to switch between these languages, so people can speak into their devices to “find a choice as kai of panipopo”. Most importantly, however, we will secure the future for these languages in a changing, dynamic, digital world.
Currently, minority languages do not have the datasets big enough for existing methods to work, so these languages and their communities are largely invisible and unheard in these contexts. Their existence is under threat because as digital technologies further permeate our day to day life, the ability to engage and transmit the language intergenerationally becomes more and more difficult. Our research programme will make it possible for ‘low resource’ languages and their speakers to be able to fully participate in a digital context by creating cutting edge technology.