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Te Reo Māori Translation Project Evaluation

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Evaluation of the Online Cenotaph and Collections Online Te Reo Māori Translation Project

Victoria Passau and James Taylor
Collection Information and Access

9a968ab9-7d15-4bab-9696-064b3955141f.jpgTāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum is committed to honouring the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, our country’s founding document. We are proud to be a kaikokiri (enabler) in the revitalisation of te reo Māori, which is an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand. As such, we will continue to support the language, and are actively working to increase its visibility on our website and within our physical spaces.

In 2020, we were granted funding from Internet NZ to support the translation into te reo Māori of the user interfaces of our two flagship digital platforms, Online Cenotaph and Collections Online. The project’s goal was to broaden the accessibility of the Museum's online collections. Translating these user interfaces was the first in a number of steps toward developing a multilingual website. In broadening access to the platforms to both fluent speakers and akonga (students) of te reo Māori, we are supporting the government’s target of having one million New Zealanders who speak the language by 2040. This project also aligns with the Museum’s vision to increase the visibility of te reo Māori and access to Taonga Māori collections.

Since launching the translated pages, in September 2020, there have been over 120,000 views of the Museum’s content on Collections Online and Online Cenotaph. The most popular pages are the Online Cenotaph and Collections Online landing pages, which is not a surprise as this is where our users often start their searches. The most viewed item on Collections Online is this photograph of tamariki performing a haka at Whakarewarewa in the early 1900s.


Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd. was established in 2000 and specialises in indigenous community development, making them well placed to support this kaupapa.

The company undertook an evaluation of our translation project, focussing on identifying:

  • Awareness of te reo Māori content on the website
  • Attitudes toward the te reo Māori content on the website
  • The value of the te reo Māori content across different sectors
  • Recommendations for the improvement or growth of the te reo Māori content on the website.

The evaluation was in the form of an online survey and video-chat focus groups, involving a total of 156 participants. This small sampling was made up of 132 online respondents to a month-long survey, and 24 users split into six targeted focus groups.

The two methods resulted in markedly different feedback. The focus groups comprised te reo Māori learners, speakers, teachers, researchers, and enthusiasts based primarily in Auckland. Participants appreciated our efforts to increase the profile of te reo Māori and felt that the translations demonstrated the versatility of the language. They thought that the project would help to increase research materials available in te reo Māori.

By contrast, most survey respondents, admitting they spoke and/or understood very little te reo Māori, recognised that the translations were a great acknowledgement of the language’s official status, but thought they would be irrelevant to many users.


The evaluation identified five main themes and recommendations:

  1. Promotion: further promote the translations
  2. Increasing visibility: use more te reo Māori on the website
  3. Web design: provide clearer ‘sign-posts’ to ensure that everyone is aware that te reo Māori is available on the website
  4. Style guide: consider developing a policy that outlines a commitment to quality and consistent approaches to te reo Māori translations
  5. Staff support: create a best-practice approach to supporting our kaimahi (colleagues) when responding to anti-te-reo-Māori feedback

The survey findings affirmed the primary aspiration of this project – to broaden the accessibility of the Museum's online collections across the board, from novices (or non-speakers) to those fluent in te reo Māori. We note that whilete reo translations are appreciated, further opportunities exist to strengthen the content and increase its promotion. For example, the participants requested that the Museum provide more Māori content especially for school-age rangatahi (young people). Others noted that profiling Māori soldiers, taonga (treasures), or stories may help the website to better align with te ao Māori (the Māori world/worldview).

Some focus-group feedback indicated a need to review some of the te reo Māori terminology to ensure clarity and aid in providing a more consistent user experience. We will reassess some of the translations and work on tweaking the web design and placement of the language toggle button.


The evaluation revealed that there are endless opportunities for using the translation resources. Overall, participants saw significant value in having te reo Māori on the site. One participant said that the translations are “great for Māori essays […] and good to have info that can be quoted directly”.

Participants discussed the potential of the website to inform research and learning in te reo Māori and noted the abundance of information we hold . They commended the extensive contribution the site makes to te reo Māori resources generally. The pool of research material available in te reo Māori has been limited, but it is slowly growing, and our Online Cenotaph and Collections Online interfaces are now part of it. These affirmations are very gratifying and encourage us as we aim to do more in this area. The evaluation will help shape our work plans and has highlighted the need for continued investment in the promotion and development of digital te reo Māori resources by the Museum.

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Cite this article

Passau, Victoria and James Taylor. Te Reo Māori Translation Project Evaluation. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 13 September 2021. Updated: 13 September 2021.