Learning a language you love when you are non-speaking

Kenneth Palmer

Geneva Hakaraia-Tino has a vision that all tāngata whaikaha Māori will be in a position to converse in te reo – such as all those who are non-speaking.

Read through this story in te reo Māori and English right here. / Pānuitia tēnei i te reo Māori me te reo Pākehā ki konei.

She grew up surrounded by part products and a loaded tradition at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland, which she describes as a privilege.

But Hakaraia-Tino (Ngāpuhi and Te Aupōuri) understands the boundaries that people today who are non-talking confront when communicating in te reo.

She was born with cerebral palsy and has constrained speech qualities it was her parents’ desire for her to attend Māori-medium education and learning but it wasn’t possible since of the limited expert services readily available for students who ended up non-speaking.

Geneva Hakaraia-Tino has cerebral palsy and limited speech abilities. She is developing a synthetic te reo voice.


Geneva Hakaraia-Tino has cerebral palsy and confined speech capabilities. She is acquiring a artificial te reo voice.

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“I was fundamentally penned off by people,” she states. “It was negative ample I experienced a incapacity, but I am also non-talking so, in the eyes of the very ablest modern society we stay in, it was greater if I was just put someplace in the qualifications and that was it.”

Not staying ready to connect in a language that is so essential to you can generally depart a man or woman in a spot of silence and te ao pōuriuri (a globe of darkness) as they are not able to express their whakaaro (views) or participate in te ao Māori, Hakaraia-Tino suggests.

But what individuals around her did not realise was that she was “soaking up everything” she was hearing, she claims. “I beloved the eloquence of te reo remaining spoken.”

Hakaraia-Tino understands the barriers that people who are non-speaking face when communicating in te reo.


Hakaraia-Tino understands the obstacles that men and women who are non-talking confront when communicating in te reo.

Her need to understand te reo is embedded in her staying and, 5 several years back, she enrolled in a class at university to continue her reo journey.

She can now confidently maintain a kōrero in te reo and deliver a mihi at hui. She states it “really helps make my heart happy” being aware of how substantially she’s sophisticated in her reo and how significantly she can have an understanding of now.

But finding out te reo was the “easy part”. Hakaraia-Tino quickly realised there were quite a few barriers when discovering a language through a interaction system that was created to speak and pronounce English text.

She to begin with tried phonetically spelling Māori words and phrases, but the present voices accessible (her “accent” is Australian due to the fact it is the closest to a synthesised New Zealand accent) “butchers” te reo Māori and “it’s just not acceptable”, she claims.

Te reo is a beautiful language, but her product would not to it any justice, she suggests.

“It’s pretty uncomfortable,” she adds.

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Now, she’s now taken it upon herself to develop a synthetic te reo voice that pronounces text effectively with the eloquence she enjoys about te reo Māori.

That is how her task Tua o Te Pae was born.

It started off with a discussion with the TalkLink Trust, an organisation that supports disabled men and women to find communication methods, often by way of AAC (augmentative and different communication).

Hakaraia-Tino acquired in touch with speech-language therapist Ann Smaill, who is also the chief executive at the TalkLink Belief, to go over how they could get this task off the ground.

The two have recognised each and every other for most of Hakaraia-Tino’s lifetime.

Smaill claims the organisation normally recognised that it was not ready to give tangata whenua the instruments to connect in te reo.

“We’ve accomplished all types of operate close to attempting to make that a lot easier for [Hakaraia-Tino], but she’s had to use AAC systems that use English and a really lousy career of utilizing te reo.

“It’s been just one of these frustrations we have all experienced for a quite long time,” Smaill says.

Hakaraia-Tino describes that it is more than a annoyance for her.

“Being unable to converse in te reo Māori is probably to substantially have an effect on the psychological and non secular wellbeing of tangata whaikaha Māori, as well as their relationship with whānau and community.”

A brand name new voice

AAC gadgets use text to speech engineering with computer software that generates artificial digitised speech.

Though there are a selection of global firms that specialise in developing artificial voices and languages, they primarily acquire mainstream and European languages.

Smaill suggests indigenous languages with smaller populations, like te reo Māori, are threatened the most simply because there hasn’t been a large amount of work or growth place into them. But development is becoming manufactured.

“I think the technologies is virtually there that we can realise some of those people desires to get to more compact indigenous languages synthesised,” Smaill states.

It has taken some time for them to find the right organization for the position, not just concerning the technologies, but also just one that was respectful and culturally ideal.

Hakaraia-Tino claims it is actually essential the corporation understands and values tikanga Māori.

Hakaraia-Tino says having a te reo synthetic voice will mean she can finally express herself in te reo and share the language she’s learnt over many years.


Hakaraia-Tino says having a te reo artificial voice will suggest she can last but not least categorical herself in te reo and share the language she’s learnt around numerous several years.

They have began a romance with artificial voice technology firm The Voice Keeper, which is centered in Israel.

The Voice Keeper has the technology to create and meet the demands of a synthetic te reo voice, but first, the Tua o Te Pae project requirements to raise $800,000. Hakaraia-Tino envisions a voice could be developed within just the future two yrs.

In the meantime, she is reaching out to networks in just the disability and Māori communities to make certain they get it right.

They have formulated a whānau group who will manual them from a relatives point of view about what the undertaking wants to get into thought, and they’ve also shaped a kaupapa team for persons with knowledge to guidance the project.

Although the scope of Tua o Te Pae has a focus on applying a synthetic voice within interaction equipment, when designed, there is possible for a much broader application.

The growth of a artificial te reo voice could also be used in monitor reader technological know-how that is utilized by the blind and lower-vision group and assistive technologies to aid people today with print worries, this sort of as dyslexia.

Obtaining a te reo synthetic voice would also assistance the development of a synthetic voice for other Pacific languages which are linguistically similar, Hakaraia-Tino suggests.

Hakaraia-Tino says she’ll sense real feeling of achievement when she’s able to give non-talking tāngata whaikaha Māori with a voice to talk in te ao Māori.

On a individual level, she claims having a te reo artificial voice will signify she can last but not least convey herself in te reo and share the language she’s learnt around several a long time.

“For far too long we have been dwelling in a society, notably in the Māori group, where by we are undermined and ignored.”

She says that desires to transform and that is what drives her to do this venture.

The task also aims to assist people to be in a location of enlightenment where by their voices are listened to, she states.

“Māori AAC users and their whānau extensive for the working day when they can share their mihi and stand in their have mana as a Māori speaker,” says Hakaraia-Tino.

“But for now, they are still left inquiring, why does my lifestyle, language and education and learning keep on to be withheld from me in this way?”

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