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This week AUT University academics launched the International Centre for Language Revitalisation at the United Nations, in New York City - a centre which could breathe life into many of the world’s endangered languages.
Professors from Te Ipukarea, the National Māori Language Institute at AUT, presented its digital platform developed for teaching Te Reo Māori at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, highlighting its potential for use with other endangered languages.
AUT University Vice Chancellor Derek McCormack who also attended the Forum, along with the Chancellor Sir Paul Reeves, said: “Presenting at the Forum is a first for a New Zealand University reflecting our commitment to being the University of choice for Māori. It was a proud moment for AUT”.
The innovative online language learning system uses a range of technology including iPads and iPhones to deliver lessons allowing students to learn in a dynamic and interactive way. It also includes an encyclopedic dictionary.
After successfully trialing the platform in New Zealand, AUT is now talking to indigenous communities in the USA about how they can implement the technology.
The development of this technology is the result of a lifetime's work by two Professors from AUT; Dr Tania Ka’ai and Dr John Moorfield. Professor Moorfield was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2010 for his services to Māori language education.
“I believe there’s an obligation to share our learning with other indigenous peoples - it is unique in that a range of quality and diverse language resources have been brought together,” says Professor Ka'ai.
AUT University’s presentation at the forum was supported by the New Zealand Mission to New York.
The inaugural meeting of the Professors and Fellows of the ICLR meets in Washington today, with leading scholars from Universities including Harvard, City University of New York and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute.
The United Nations estimates there are approximately 6,500 spoken languages in the world today with 50 per cent at some sort of risk of disappearing.