May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Huge collection of written legal texts in Maori now available

2 min read

Alarge collection of written legal texts in Maori was recently made available online. This is one of several key outputs of the Legal Maori Project, co-led by Mamaritephens of the Law Faculty at Victoria University of Wellington, and Dr. Mary Boyce, the Maori Program Coordinator at UH Manoa. The project began in mid-2008. The project team is now working on the compilation of the Legal Maori Dictionary, due for completion in 2012.

The aim of the Project (based at the Law Faculty of Victoria University in Wellington) is to provide a resource to speakers of te reo Maori that will assist such speakers to use Maori vocabulary to describe Western legal concepts. The current project phase (2008-2012) has been funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) and Victoria University. It sets out to produce a dictionary of legal Maori terms for Western legal concepts, based on a large corpus of printed written texts in M?ori. On the route to the dictionary the project has produced the Legal Maori Archive , the Legal Maori Lexicon and the Legal Maori Corpus.

Dr. Boyce spent her summer in Wellington, Aotearoa-NZ, working with her colleagues there to complete the Legal Maori Corpus. It is comprised of 8 million words of running text compiled from legal texts printed in Maori from the earliest printed materials in the nineteenth century to the present day .
On June 30, the pre-1910 text collection of 5.2 million words was publicly released for use by researchers and the public.
This is the largest known publicly available corpus of Maori. This unprecedented collection is a rich source of information to a range of research projects, both linguistic and legal. The Legal Maori Project team is using the corpus as the basis for the dictionary, to guide which words, phrases and meanings to include in the dictionary. Other outputs from the project are the Legal Maori Archive, released in June 2009, and the Legal Maori Lexicon released in June 2010.
To view details of the project and the corpus texts, visit:

Project Leaders: Mamari Stephens (Te Rarawa), Dr Mary Boyce (University of Hawaii, Manoa)

Reference Group: Te Ripowai Higgins, (Tuhoe), Paul Meredith, (Ngati Kaputuhi, Maniapoto) Professor Richard Benton, Te Haumihiata Mason, (Tuhoe, Te Arawa, Ngaiterangi,) Judge Craig Coxhead (Ngati Makino, Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Awa, Ngati Maru) and Judge David Ambler of the Maori Land Court, Professor Richard Boast, Faculty of Law at Victoria University of Wellington; Carwyn Jones (Ngati Kahungunu, Te Aitanga a Mahaki) Mokena Reedy (Ngati Porou)

Research Assistants

  • Tai Ahu
  • Rachael Hoare
  • Paranihia Walker
  • Emma Kuperus
  • Joeliee Seed-Pihema
  • Dulce Piacentini
  • Debbie Broughton
  • Phoebe Monk
  • Ed Willis
  • Hannah Northover
  • Rama Chadwick

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