28 Nov 2013

Dora the Explorer to be Translated into Maori

‘Kia Ora’, Says Dora the Explorer

Popular children’s television shows Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob Squarepants are to be translated into Maori for Kiwi kids in a move experts hope will breathe new life into the language.

New Zealand broadcaster Maori Television has acquired rights to re-version the animated programmes, with both shows to be aired in mid-2014.

One of New Zealand’s official languages, Maori is commonly referred to as te reo, and is mainly spoken in the country’s North Island.

A national census taken in 2006 suggests there were approximately 157,000 Maori speakers in New Zealand, around 4% of the country’s population. Fluent Maori speakers tend to be older, usually over the age of 50.

The thinking behind the translation of Dora and Spongebob is that it will help promote the Maori language among New Zealand’s young people, or tamariki.

The translation of Dora, which is aimed at children aged one to five, and Spongebob, which appeals to both adults and children, will be undertaken by a specialist team of translators from Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo – the Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language.

Pania Papa, a Maori language expert who is leading the project, said the translation of both programmes could revitalise the language.

“Young people carry the potential to take the language to a different dimension so if we provide a good model for them at a young age, who knows where our tamariki can take our language in the future,” she said.

“These programmes are so popular worldwide, the fact they will be in te reo will do much for the status of the language.”

Dora will be translated into a national, standardised Maori to appeal to children, with Spongebob featuring characters with different tribal dialects.

“This will teach tamariki that there are differences within the language and help revitalise the different dialects,” Papa, who will be voicing some of the characters in both series, added.

Haunui Royal of Maori Television described the translation of both shows as “significant” for the Maori language.

“We see this audience [young children] as central to our te reo strategy so we are happy to be one of the many Maori organisations in the community that are working together to ensure our language can be handed down to the next generation,” he said.

“This is a significant project for Māori Television and we hope that it will be a valuable resource for all of our tamariki.”

Maori education in New Zealand was given a boost this week after the country’s Government announced it would put 31 million New Zealand dollars into secondary school programmes to help Maori students.

The funding will go toward teacher development so they can “effectively deliver the curriculum and a more integrated package of culturally responsive leadership”, Education Minister Hekia Parata said.


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