When U.S. tech firm OpenAI rolled out Whisper, a speech recognition tool offering audio transcription and translation into English for dozens of languages including Maori, it rang alarm bells for many Indigenous New Zealanders.

Whisper, launched in September by the company behind the ChatGPT chatbot, was trained on 680,000 hours of audio from the web, including 1,381 hours of the Maori language.

Indigenous tech and culture experts say that while such technologies can help preserve and revive their languages, harvesting their data without consent risks abuse, distorting of Indigenous culture, and depriving minorities of their rights.