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New reading app shares stories in te reo Māori

By Shannon Williams, 29 Jan 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand production house Kiwa Digital has released a series of interactive graphic novellas written in te reo Māori. The series was launched last night at The Grid in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct.

The series has the backing of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission, and re-tells the Māori creation story in a contemporary format for the digital generation.

The launch was attended by Shane Jones, ambassador for Pacific Economic Development, MPs Mārama Fox and Kelvin Davis, and Erima Hēnare, chair of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

“Kiwa Digital educational apps are a great example of New Zealand and Māori combining intellectual property with commercial endeavour,” says Jones.

“Kiwa Digital has demonstrated its strong ability to seize opportunities that changes in technology bring, starting first in the post production industry and now revolutionising how we approach e-books,” Steven Joyce, Economic Development Minister, says of the launch.

“Publishing our traditional stories as apps answers the increasing demand from young Māori for creative ways to learn to speak the Māori language, and for opportunities to engage with it,” says Tuehu Harris of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

“Kiwa Digital has produced a quality set of graphic novellas that support our goal of revitalising te reo Māori in online and offline communities.”

The apps have several educational features. Swipe to Read highlights synchronised text to audio, Tap to Hear allows the reader to touch individual words for correct pronunciation and Tap to Spell technology supports learning to spell Māori words phonetically while English spelling is supported in the traditional way.

There is also an option to self-record so the reader can replace the app voice with his or her own voice.

The stories were written by Rereata Mākihā, Nikora Wharerau and Waihoroi Shortland, after which Munro Te Whata, Kiwa’s in-house illustrator added imagery.

“Books are wonderful but the great tradition of storytelling is to speak out loud,” says Rhonda Kite, founder of Kiwa Digital. “Our products have an educational focus but the activities are not games, they are a way of sharing different cultures with the world.” 

Available in the App Store and Google Play, the first novella in the series is free with subsequent instalments priced at $1.29 each. 

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