24 Nov 2018

Kupu app takes Māori language award

7:53 pm on 24 November 2018

Spark and Te Aka Māori Dictionary have won the 2018 Supreme Māori Language Award for their jointly developed smartphone tool that helps users learn te reo.

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A screenshot of the Kupu app. Photo: Supplied / Screenshot

The free app called Kupu allows people to find the Māori word for an object simply by pointing a phone camera at it.

Professor Whatarangi Winiata of Ngāti Raukawa was given a lifetime achievement award.

There were only 85 te reo speakers in the Ngāti Raukawa iwi in 1975 when Mr Winiata started the iwi's revitalisation movement.

The number of te reo speakers has grown rapidly over the past 40 years, with almost half of Māori now speaking te reo in the town of Otaki.

"That's been a really exciting development at Otaki and for the Raukawa people," Mr Winiata said.

"When we started we had so few and in decline and so I was really pleased that we were invited last night to address this."

He said the language was still recovering, but he was hopeful for the future of te reo within the Ngāti Raukawa iwi.

"The last 40 years here has shown us that Māori can be in revival mode and that's showing up pretty well in Otaki as a place, with the young people here and their commitment to the revival of the language," he said.

Māori Language Commission chairperson Professor Rawinia Higgins said Mr Winiata's achievement proved that revitalisation is possible at the iwi and community level.

About 400 people attended the awards ceremony in Wellington last night.

Thirty-six finalists were selected from more than 150 nominations - the highest number received since the awards began in 2004.

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