Today, Lenovo in collaboration with AMD announces the launch of a keyboard available on select devices featuring an Aotearoa New Zealand bilingual keyboard, designed to seamlessly write in the indigenous language, te reo Māori. The breakthrough approach device aims to enable Lenovo’s customers to communicate in their preferred language.
The idea for the keyboard is the result of Lenovo New Zealand Country Manager, Libby Macgregor’s 8- year-old son Felix, beginning to learn te reo Māori in school and questioned why there wasn’t hardware available to support his learning. New Zealanders aged 15-34 are the most likely age group to speak more than a few words or phrases in te reo Māori, demonstrating the importance of learning when younger.
“Felix came home one day and asked me ‘Mum, why can’t I find the keys on the keyboard to type in te reo Māori?’ It was then I realised we didn’t have the hardware to make this as easy as it should be,” said Macgregor. “Lenovo has an incredible Product Diversity Office, and it was in consultation with this team we created something that could support the learning and use of te reo Māori. This is why this launch is a particularly meaningful one for me, personally.”
“Digital devices in countries with large English-speaking populations often miss out on products with alternate characters for languages. This results in a digital divide for consumers who do not have a viable solution to use technology the way they want to, impacting their daily use of preferred languages,” continued Macgregor.
“Māori is a culture which stays alive predominantly through use of the language. A number of organisations are leading this important kaupapa such as Te taura whiri i te reo māori (The Māori Language Commission), Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development), Whakaata Māori TV and Radio Waatea, however the journey is ongoing. Lenovo wants to contribute by enabling Aotearoa’s rangatahi and professional workforce to utilise te reo Māori with ease in their everyday lives, through the launch of this keyboard.”
In 2020, Lenovo launched its Product Diversity Office to ensure that its solutions are easily accessible, and reflect the diversity needs of its worldwide customer base with a goal to have 75% of all products vetted for inclusion by 2025. The launch of the bilingual keyboard signifies a step further in changing the landscape of digital equity and inclusion, through smarter technology for all Aotearoa New Zealand.
“Language is fundamental when it comes to culture, preserving it allows us to pass on history and traditions for generations to come.”, said Peter Chambers, Managing Director, Sales, AMD Asia Pacific & Japan. “We, at AMD, are active champions of diversity and inclusion. Our relentless drive to innovate means we always seek to redefine the status quo. Today, it is through the launch of the Lenovo Aotearoa New Zealand bilingual keyboard in select ThinkPad and Education laptop devices. We are incredibly thrilled to be a part of this significant step forward in promoting greater diversity in education”.
Ada Lopez from Lenovo’s Product Diversity Office said: “At Lenovo, we believe that no one should be left behind in our shared digital future. Technology is a catalyst for positive change which brings people together, however that experience can be enhanced by making it accessible to all.
We have always welcomed innovations and new ideas from the Lenovo family and the bilingual keyboard is a fantastic example of empowering every member of the Lenovo team to make a positive impact. We are excited to unveil this new product in New Zealand and take another step towards driving inclusivity across the globe,” said Lopez.
The launch of the bilingual keyboard follows Lenovo’s increasing investment into the preservation of indigenous cultures through its Lenovo Foundation which has most recently seen Motorola partnering with UNESCO to conduct further research on the impact and potential of digitising endangered indigenous languages.
“Together with the Lenovo Foundation, Motorola is proud to be partnering with UNESCO to digitize endangered indigenous languages over the next ten years. Our plans to include te ao Māori on the handset user interface of all Motorola devices this year further highlights Lenovo and Motorola’s commitment to help close the gap in digitally inclusive technology and inspire more action towards the revitalisation of indigenous languages,” said Kurt Bonnici, Head of Motorola, Australia and New Zealand.
The Aotearoa New Zealand bilingual keyboard is now available with select ThinkPad and Education laptop devices, available through Lenovo’s commercial channels for use in businesses and learning environments, such as schools and universities. Interested parties can reach out to their Lenovo partner for more details. Lenovo plans to release the device to consumer customers at a later, yet to be determined date.