New App makes learning Māori fun

New mobile app developed by the Wellington Faculty of Education, Te Kura Māori, looks set to change the way New Zealanders learn te reo Māori.

Tabitha McKenzie, holding iPad showing the Te Reo app.

The ‘Kura App’ includes a range of games modules that allow users to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Māori language. Users are timed and can pit their skills against others via a scoreboard.

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington lecturer Tabitha McKenzie says Kura was developed to plug a gap in the market.

“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.”

Mrs McKenzie says 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.

“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.”

Mrs McKenzie says before users access the modules and games, they can create an avatar, or alter ego, which involves choosing their hair, eyes, nose, mouth, clothes, and even accessories.

Users can then progress through the levels at a competitive pace.

She believes Kura is a first for New Zealand and 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 will initially be available to Apple iPhone users with a roll-out for Android phones and desktops further down the track.