Māori Keyboard Layouts

Yoshi the little dragon

Māori Keyboard Layouts - Overview

A keyboard layout describes which characters the keys on your computer keyboard produce when they are pressed.
Characters are produced by pressing single keys, pressing a key while holding one or more special modifier keys (i.e. Shift, Ctrl, Alt, Right-Alt), or by pressing a special key (called a Dead Key) and then another key in sequence.

The standard keyboard layout for New Zealand is the English (US) keyboard, which supports the basic English/Western European characters.
This site has several keyboard layouts that support the English characters, as well as the macron characters used for Māori.
These keyboard layouts are described in Keyboard Layouts.

A keyboard definition is the computer code required to tell a particular operating system how to use a keyboard layout.
This site has keyboard definitions for Windows XP/2000, which can be found on the Download Page.
Although newer operating systems, such as Windows XP, support displaying macron characters, until recently there were no standard keyboard definitions supplied with these operating systems that allow you to type them in.

Recently, Microsoft New Zealand, in partnership with The University of Waikato, released a keyboard definition that supported typing macron characters on a standard keyboard.
The recently released Service Pack 2 for Windows XP includes this keyboard definition.

This site provides alternatives to this keyboard layout, which I find easier to use. You can read more about these in Keyboard Layouts.

Until fairly recently, the macron characters used in written Māori could not be produced by standard keyboard layouts, or displayed by any of the standard computer fonts.
One common solution to this was to use an English (International) keyboard definition, which produced the European accented characters (e.g. ö, ä) and use a modified macronised font that changed the accented characters into macron characters.
This approach is usually called ANSI Macrons (because it uses normal ANSI characters) and has several drawbacks:
  • It is impossible to combine the European accented characters with Māori characters, as they use the same character internally.
  • Anyone who you share the document with needs to install the macronised fonts - this becomes particularly difficult with web pages shared on the Internet.

Newer operating systems, such as Windows XP, now support the much larger Unicode character set, which includes the macron characters.
If a keyboard layout, such as the ones on this site, is used with one of these newer operating systems, macron characters can be typed directly without using macronised fonts, and exchanged with other people.
It is generally accepted that this is the way forward, but there are still documents that depend on the old macronised fonts that will need to be converted. See the Links Page for more information on conversion tools.

This site has keyboard definitions for the Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems.
They will not work on older versions of Windows such as Windows 95/98/Me.

If you have an older or different operating system, there may be other keyboard definitions available.
Check the Links page for more information.