The long view on indigenous language preservation

The ANZSOG First Peoples Conference in Melbourne on the theme of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, was an opportunity to call on public servants and indigenous leaders in Australia and New Zealand to take the long view on indigenous language preservation.

Indigenous languages need not one, or even five year plans; but uber long term strategic plans to ensure they survive and thrive.

This means language revitalisation strategies that reach back to the beginning of time, and forward a further 60,000 years.

This long view emphasises the indissoluble links between past and future; the intersection of language loss with economic, education, health, and social deprivation; and the huge responsibility on all our shoulders.

But long term plans can only be implemented successfully if they have technology solutions at their heart. We shared some of our projects to illustrate,

  • Creation story apps developed by local Aboriginal students in collaboration with the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages
  • An app series on the Māori Gods that has had 50,000 downloads and made it to in-flight entertainment
  • Cultural capability toolkits developed for over 30 leading New Zealand business, government and community agencies
  • A series of historical digital stories developed by Māori iwi, hapū and whānau
  • A Cultural Tool for the Alaskan Afognak community, whose deeply broken history has led to an aspiration to use technology to create a “virtual village” linked by mobile devices
  • A mixed reality game that blends together origami crafting and augmented reality to enable children to create and care for their own digital world.
  • Experimenting with multimedia, using Kiwa’s software as a catalyst for a new dubbing industry for the Peuh language in West Africa.  

A new technology programme, the Indigenous Media Toolkit, was also introduced. Aimed to boost indigenous media development, the programme helps indigenous groups establish Technology Hubs where they develop capability to publish their own stories in their own voices. KIWA is the first company in the world to offer this specialised product for indigenous organisations.  

“Technology is opening up exciting new opportunities for indigenous groups, with immersive  technology allowing indigenous perspectives to be communicated to scale in unique new ways.”

Steven Renata, CEO Kiwa Digital