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

 

Art: Something Felt, Something Shared - Enjoy

Gabrielle Amodeo, Ruby Joy Eade, Clare McLean, Kalya Ward Curated by Emma Ng May 7 – 30, 2015 Opening: Wednesday May 6, 5.30pm Strange frequencies are channelled through personal narratives and poetic placeholders in Something felt, something ... More>>

Culture: Pukeahu Park ANZAC Day Commemoration 2015

Pukeahu Park ANZAC Day Commemoration 2015 Images from New Zealand Defence Force Click for big version A bugler plays The Last Post Click for big version A View from the top of the Carillion Click for big version Faces old and young Click for big ... More>>

Television: MediaWorks Announces Dancing With The Stars Hosts

MediaWorks and BBC Worldwide ANZ are delighted to announce host Dominic Bowden alongside co-host Sharyn Casey for the hit series Dancing with the Stars. More>>

Art: World Premiere Of In Pursuit Of Venus [infected]

World Premiere of in Pursuit of Venus [infected] opens this Saturday at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki More>>

Fashion: The 11th ID International Emerging Designer Winner Announced

Emerging Kiwi fashion designer Steve Hall has taken out the top prize at the 11th annual iD International Emerging Designer Awards held at the Town Hall in Dunedin, New Zealand. More>>

Review: Singin’ In The Rain

Singin’ in the Rain , the wet and wonderful musical production all the way from London’s West End, officially opened at St. James Theatre in Wellington. More>>

Francis Cook: Gallipoli: The Scale Of Our War – First Look

Te Papa today allowed media access to their new exhibition Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War . The exhibition was curated with help from Weta Workshop to deliver an immersive, realistic and even disorienting experience. More>>

ALSO:

Bats Theatre: Letters From The Front Brings ANZAC Letters Alive

Inspired by centenary commemorations, improv troupe Best on Tap is producing a show based on real-life letters sent to and from New Zealand soldiers in the First World War. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news