Five years ago we made a small but important addition to the Google New Zealand homepage: in Māori. A team of Googlers and awesome Māori-speaking volunteers had helped translate thousands of words and phrases so Māori language speakers and students could search the web while fully immersed in their language. At the time, it was one of the first minority languages in the world to be translated into the language of the internet age.

We recently checked in on the usage of the Māori language-version of Google, and were heartened to see that it’s being used tens of thousands of times per day! For a language that numbers only an estimated 30,000 regular speakers, this is a meaningful number of people who are making Māori part of their daily routine—and as experts will tell you, that is the best possible way of bringing an endangered language back from the brink. Far from preserving endangered languages in textbooks and museums, we need to bring them into daily life in a normal, unassuming way—from saying “kia ora” as you board the bus, to clicking "Taku Waimārie Hoki!" instead of "I'm Feeling Lucky".

But we have a long way to go before Māori is off the endangered languages list, and we think technology holds an important key. We need more Māori speakers to join us and rate translations so we can see if Māori could become a candidate for full integration into Google Translate.

Google Translate allows languages to be translated automatically, and thereby opens up worlds of knowledge that may be otherwise hidden. For minority languages such as te reo Māori, it provides more avenues for the language to be seen and used, and greater understanding for those who are unfamiliar with the language.

While ultimately Google Translate works without the intervention of human translators, right now we need a little help from native speakers to rate the initial efforts of Google Translate with Māori. If you are fluent in the Māori language, click on this link and rate as many translations as you have time for. Doing so will help us determine the viability of te reo Māori to be fully integrated with Google Translate—which could be a huge step forward for the language.

The usage of Google services in Māori shows that there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of New Zealand's beautiful indigenous language—and far from technology further threatening it, technology is helping it. Help us make this a reality by rating some translations to see even more of the Māori language available on the web.

Posted by Craig Nevill-Manning, Engineering Director, Google