Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Māori alphabet blocks help build Te Reo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Māori alphabet blocks help build Te Reo

Māori alphabet blocks designed by a Massey student are bringing Te Reo and Māori culture into the homes of New Zealanders.

Māori graphic designer Johnson Witehira has collaborated with American company Uncle Goose to produce the first set of Māori alphabet blocks in the world.

The printed wooden blocks include the Māori language alphabet surrounded by traditional carving patterns and figures from six iwi throughout New Zealand. The figures of Tāne, Tangaroa, Tāwhiri-mātea, Tūmatauenga, Haumia-tiketike and Rongo-mā-Tāne can be stacked on top of one another and are interchanged with tukutuku (ornamental lattice) patterns and letters.

Mr Witehira, a Massey Māori Fine Arts PhD candidate, says the blocks will help children become familiar with both Te Reo Māori and visual aspects of the culture.

It also put into practice ideas from his thesis, which focuses on articulating and developing Māori design practices. “In my research I’m trying to articulate the syntax and grammar of Māori design through the analysis of customary carving. At the same time, I’m trying to develop culturally appropriate guidelines for contemporary Maori designers. I saw the block project as a great opportunity to test some of the ideas within my thesis about Māori design practice.”

Mr Witehira says when he showed the first prototypes of the blocks to friends, both Māori and Pākehā, they were blown away. “One of them said they could see this being the new buzzy bee! Though that wasn’t the intention, I do see this as a way of getting Māori culture into the homes of all New Zealanders. And it’s nice to see these blocks appeal to both Māori and Pākehā.”

Massey School of Māori Studies head Professor Robert Jahnke is supervising Mr Witehira’s PhD and says the 29-year old is an extremely versatile designer who is not afraid to push the envelope.

“It [alphabet blocks] places Māori imagery and alphabet with the early childhood learning environment, allowing children of all nationalities to engage with the images of patterns like poutama (a tukutuku pattern) and the stylised human forms of the tiki from various regional styles,” he says.

Uncle Goose already produces alphabet blocks in more than 19 different languages, and its owner Peter Bultman has always wanted to design a set of Māori blocks. “I needed a person of Māori descent, and someone with a great design sensibility,” Mr Bultman says. “Sometimes you just have a feel about a designer when you see their work, it either resonates with you or not. Johnson's previous work had all the right vibes.”

Mr Witehira recently showcased his work on digital billboards in New York’s Times Square, after winning a digital art competition. The Māori alphabet blocks are now on sale in New Zealand, Australia and America. Mr Witehira is currently in Japan and can be contacted via email on Johnson.Witehira@gmail.com

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Scoop Review Of Books: No Longer An Island

Simon Nathan reviews 'Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed': The idea that New Zealand is part of a large submerged continent is not new... There was renewed interest in the extent of offshore New Zealand from the 1970s onwards with the start of offshore drilling for oil and gas, and this was given impetus by a UN agreement which allowed countries to claim an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS). More>>

Art: Simon Denny Recreates Kim Dotcom’s Personal Effects

Who owns what? How has the internet changed our relation to the world? These are two of the many questions Simon Denny raises in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery, opening on Saturday 4 October. More>>

Theatre: The F Word: Sex Without The 'ism'

Sex without the 'ism' Okay, so the sexes are equal in the eyes of the law. What the F happens now? More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Don’t Eat The Fish

On 'The Catch' by Michael Field What the ecologically edible lists don’t appear to take into account – and they should – is slavery... It’s not an easy read, but it’s definitely near the top of my listicle of “5 Political Books You Must Read This Year”. More>>

ALSO:

Caracals: Small Cats With Big Ears Arrive At Wellington Zoo

Visitors to Wellington Zoo will be able to see New Zealand’s first Caracals in the Zoo’s new Grassland Cats habitat, with a special visitor opening day on Saturday 27 September. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Classics - Tales From Moominvalley
Can’t speak for the reading end of it but the Moomins ( or maybe the story about Margaret Wise Brown) were the most enjoyable subject to think about and write about during these whole first 50 issues of Werewolf. For that reason – and because the Moomins always reward re-reading – I’ve decided to reprint it. The only added element is a link to an interesting hour long documentary about Tove Jansson. More>>

ALSO:

Repping In The Pacific: All Blacks And Manu Samoa To Play Historic Apia Test

The All Blacks will play Manu Samoa in Apia on Wednesday 8 July next year as part of both teams’ preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news