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Spark launches Kupu

Monday 10 September 2018

Spark launches Kupu: a picture to Te Reo Māori translation app

Kupu: Take a photo, learn a language

To coincide with Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Spark and Te Aka Māori Dictionary have launched Kupu, an interactive mobile app powered by Google that helps people learn Te Reo Māori translations by exploring the objects around them.

Kupu is really easy to use. Users simply take a picture, Kupu will then use image recognition to identify what the object is in the picture and provide Te Reo Māori translations for the object(s).

From today, Kupu is available for download free from the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store.

Spark, Te Aka and Google have launched the app to support the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori, showcasing how digital platforms that are accessible, interactive and fun for all New Zealanders can be truly useful for our national language.

Lisa Paraku, Spark Business Manager - Māori, says Spark wants to get more people engaged and using Te Reo Māori every day, and would love every New Zealander to have a tool in their pocket to help them learn Te Reo Māori.

“We see the Māori language and culture as special and unique to New Zealand, so we want to play a small role in helping Te Reo Māori prosper through the use of digital platforms,” says Paraku.

“It has been very humbling to work with a project team of technology experts and trusted Māori advisors to create an app which will add to the growing plethora of resources that support the revitalisation of our national taonga - Te Reo Māori.

“Te Aka Māori Dictionary have brought mana and a pool of invaluable knowledge which has guided the project from concept through to creation and having Google on board means we were able to rely on state of the art technology to make Kupu a reality.”

Dr. Dean Mahuta, Senior Lecturer at AUT and Māori language researcher at Te Ipukarea, the National Māori Language Institute, has been a key advisor on the Kupu project - working alongside Te Aka Māori Dictionary and Spark to ensure Kupu showcases Te Reo Māori correctly.

“Using technology and digital platforms is a great way to encourage the use and learning of Te Reo Māori. Te Aka Māori Dictionary has over 300,000 visitors to its website per month, with over 50% of those visitors being new users,” says Mahuta.

“There are some amazing resources for learning Te Reo Māori, including books, websites and apps. However, this is the first learning tool to translate pictures in real-time. It’s an evolution of the resources that are out there.

“We hope Kupu will get everyone excited about exploring and learning Te Reo Māori, so we’re excited to share Kupu with New Zealand.”

Kupu uses Google Cloud Vision backed by Te Aka Māori Dictionary data, powered by Google’s Artificial Intelligence technology.

“We aim to inspire New Zealanders to explore Te Reo Māori and encourage them to add more Te Reo words to their everyday vocabularies,” says Tara McKenty, a creative director at Google.

“It would be amazing if, as a nation, we could learn together through an immersive interactive experience - one picture and translation at a time. Just learning a single word each day can collectively have a huge and lasting impact on our collective knowledge of Te Reo Māori.”

Kupu is made with Google technology that’s constantly learning and iterating. The app will improve its existing translations with the moderated feedback it receives over time. The project team is also working with Te Aka Māori Dictionary to increase the accuracy of Google Translate.

Click here to download Kupu brand assets.

Click here to download Spark’s Te Reo Māori business TVC.

Notes to the editor:

• Te Aka Māori Dictionary is a product of the life’s work of Professor John C. Moorfield (1943 – 2018). A humble and unassuming man of Pākehā descent, Prof. Moorfield was highly respected in the Māori community and was affectionately known as Te Murumāra. Without his advocacy and dedication to the revitalisation of the Māori language, we would not have such a comprehensive and rich resource to draw on.

• Kupu is directly translated to ‘word’.

ends

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