18 Jun 2013
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New App makes learning Maori fun

By Rebecca Wood

A new mobile phone game that allows users to pit their skills against others while improving their knowledge and understanding of the Maori language is set to change the way New Zealanders learn te reo Maori.

Developed by Victoria University’s Faculty of Education, Te Kura Māori, the ‘Kura App’ includes a range of games modules in which users are timed and can pit their skills against others via a scoreboard.

The app was developed to plug a gap in the market, says Victoria University lecturer Tabitha McKenzie.

“There didn’t seem to be any applications that catered to people with some degree of proficiency in te reo. We wanted to provide a platform that’s not only educational, but also engages the audience, which is why we opted for the games format.”

The team spent most of last year working with local app developers to create the concept. It was initially envisaged as a resource solely for teachers of Māori, but the scope was soon widened to include a more generic audience, says McKenzie.

“Our primary audience is the teachers we work with at Kura Kaupapa (language immersion schools) and in the field, but we believe everyone should be able to learn te reo Māori, so we’ve decided to make it publicly available and free to download.”

It is believed Kura is a first for New Zealand and McKenzie says the Te Kura Māori team has achieved its aim of creating an educational, fun and challenging way to learn te reo.

“The feedback so far has been really positive and users say it makes them want to learn.”

The app can be downloaded via Google Apps for andriod. Apple users can go to the iTunes Store and search ‘Kura’ to access the app.

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