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Digital Te Reo Graphic Novellas

Kiwa Digital, Auckland, 29 January 2015: A series of interactive graphic novellas in the Māori language launched last night at The Grid in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct.

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

Economic Development Minister, Steven Joyce, said of the launch, “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.”

“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 an option to self-record so the reader can replace the app voice with their own.

The stories were written by Rereata Mākihā, Nikora Wharerau and Waihoroi Shortland after which Munro Te Whata, Kiwa’s own in-house illustrator added his striking and colourful imagery. The warm and evocative voices of Rewi Spraggon and Lois McGiver were chosen for the introductory story while Shortland narrated the remaining three novels. Music and soundtracks were composed and recorded by Riki Bennett and Spraggon.

“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 installments priced at $1.29 each.

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