Story image

Success with te reo app means more resources are coming

09 May 17

After giving up a job to chase the dream of helping the children of Aotearoa, James Porter (Te Atiawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi) and his close-knit team created an app that would help teach te reo.

Porter realised he was at a crossroads, he stood at the intersection of a promising career and a chance to do good work for his language and culture.

“It came down to determining what was important and while work was important, it wasn’t the biggest contribution I could make with the skills that I had.”

The Massey University alumni enlisted the help of his wife, Massey University lecturer Veronica Tawhai (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Uepohatu), and fellow alumni Alan Nasario (Rarotonga, Rotuma) to start Pāpapa.

Over the next two years, the team developed their product. Porter says there needed to be an interpersonal connection to their app, not just a digital interaction.

“We wanted it to be something caregivers can do with their children to acknowledge that bond between them and because a shared experience of te reo brings it to life a bit more.”

Pāpapa recently launched their first free app ‘He aha tēnei?’, and have seen success with the platform already.

Early childhood centres and whānau have been giving positive feedback, with some even sending videos of their children using the app. Porter says the app isn’t just for those still in Aotearoa, but whānau who have jetted off further afield.

“We had one family in Australia that told us their daughter surprised them by getting her star pillow and then repeating what she’d learned from the app - “He whetū tēnei” It’s this sort of reaction that has made the the sacrifices so far worthwhile.”

After starting with a dream, the Pāpapa now have one fully fledged app, and three on the way. With their mission to reach potential te reo speakers and help them learn, they are well on their way.

Porter says he’s proud of the resource they’ve created, but it’s the meaningfulness that resonates with him more than creating a successful app.

“For me, the reach of it and the meaningfulness of what it’s contributing, that’s what is awesome for us. It’s cool that we’ve been able to use our particular skills and make a contribution.”

The next apps:

  • He haerenga
  • Ōku kākahu &
  • Kei hea a ihoro

Will have release dates announced soon.

Porter's success shows the kind of impact computer science students can make, as well as the way a Māori world view can innovate digital technologies.

Royole's FlexPai: So bendable phablets are a reality now
A US-based firm called Royole is delivering on that age-old problem of not being able to fold up your devices (who hasn't ever wished they could fold their phone up...)
Hands-on review: Having fun in Knowledge is Power: Decades and Chimparty
They don’t revolutionise social video gaming, but they are enjoyable enough to occupy you during a wet weekend. 
Kiwis losing $24.7mil to scam calls every year
The losses are almost five times higher compared to the same period last year, from reported losses alone.
Tile's Mate & Pro Bluetooth trackers land in NZ
If your car keys (or your tablet) have disappeared into the void at the back of the couch or if you left them somewhere in your car, retracing your steps to find them could be a thing of the past.
Government still stuck in the past? Not on GovTech's watch
What exactly is GovTech and what’s been happening in our capital city?
"Is this for real?" The reality of fraud against New Zealanders
Is this for real? More often than not these days it can be hard to tell, and it’s okay to be a bit suspicious, especially when it comes to fraud.
Hands-on review: The iPhone Xs
The iPhone Xs is a win that brought numerous new and exciting features to the market.
How much does your Amazon Prime Video subscription really get you?
For our NZ$8.90 per month, the average cost per title is US$0.00126 - but we only really get a choice of 416 TV shows and 4321 movies. Choice is a little bit limited compared to other countries.