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Major Legal Māori Projects Completed In Time For Māori Language Week

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Major Legal Māori Projects Completed In Time For Māori Language Week

Two major funded works in Māori have recently been completed by researchers and staff at Victoria University's Law Faculty, following two years of hard work.

The Faculty's Legal Maori Project team has created a Legal Māori Corpus and Legal Māori Lexicon, which will both be invaluable resources for researchers of Māori legal history and Māori linguists.

The Legal Māori Corpus is an unprecedented collection of modern and historical Māori legal language texts totalling just on eight million words.

"When we started the project two years ago we had no idea the final size of our corpus would be so great, and to our knowledge, it is the largest structured corpus of Māori language texts ever compiled," says project co-leader and Faculty lecturer, Māmari Stephens.

All texts pre-1910 are now publicly available for researchers to use, and will enable them to analyse patterns of language use and vocabulary, as well download the texts themselves for their own use. The post 1910 texts will be made available once copyright permissions are gained.

The Legal Māori Lexicon is a glossary of all legal terms identified during the course of the project so far. Just over 2000 terms have been collated with their English translations and are also now available. These terms, and their frequency of appearance in the Corpus will form the basis of a legal Māori dictionary, due for completion in early 2012.

Both the corpus and the lexicon can be accessed through the website of the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, and from the projects page of the Law website at

"It took a lot of hard work for these outputs to be produced on time and in accordance with our agreement with our funders, the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology," says Māmari Stephens.

"Many of the contributors are either current or former students of the Law Faculty, and I am grateful beyond words to all of them.

"It is our hope, as we celebrate another Māori Language Week, that within a few short years any person or group will be able to use te reo Māori to engage fully in the New Zealand legal system. The Corpus and the Lexicon are important tools to help us move in that direction."

Ka nui ngā mihi matakuikui ki a tātou. Ka haere tonu te mahi, ka puta mai tonu nga hua.

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