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Fresh look at first school in Bay of Islands


Two new learning resources aimed at raising a wider appreciation and deeper understanding of te reo Māori and our local history were launched this week at the University of Auckland’s Epsom Campus.

“KO WIRIWIRI RĀUA KO KINA” is an interactive bi-lingual app that draws on the history of the establishment of the first school in Aotearoa, which opened in Rangihoua, Bay of Islands in 1816. The story focuses on the experience of two fictional school girls, Wiriwiri and Kina as they start school together and learn to write their first letters and syllables in te reo.

Designed for students aged 8 to 13 years, the app is in animated digital format to attract the interest of a wide range of users. Learning resources integrated into the app for teachers include curriculum links, learning activities, an extensive list of resources available, and a historical timeline for printing and sharing.

The app’s production was supported by the Ministry of Education’s Te Aho Ngārahu fund, an initiative to improve the access to quality local curriculum resources in te reo Māori.

“HOHI 1816” is a board-game designed to increase the historical knowledge of teachers.

Themes of the board game include the different motivations of settlers and Māori: as the former sought to bring the message of salvation to a ‘heathen’ people, their hosts were embarking on a strategic alliance that would advantage them over rival tribes.

The board game was supported through contestable funding at the University of Auckland.

Speaking at the launch, author and game developer Ruth Lemon said,

“Both stories explore the dynamics between the missionaries and Māori people and address a common misunderstanding that missionaries were the main actors in establishing the first schools for Maori. As the resources illustrate, Maori were active partners in the establishment of the first school: the Pākehā teacher needed to learn many new things, including learning the Māori language, and Māori teaching and learning approaches.”

Steven Renata CEO of the app developer Kiwa Digital, demonstrated the app functionality, emphasising that long term language preservation plans could be implemented successfully only if they had technology solutions at their heart:

“Technology is opening up exciting new opportunities for indigenous groups, with immersive technology allowing indigenous perspectives to be communicated in unique new ways.” Renata said.

The resources were researched and written by Ruth Lemon, Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland, with the advice and support of Alison Jones, Hēmi Dale, Waldo Houia, Katarina Edmonds and Richard Durham from the Digital Learning Team; and developed with the support of Nectarine Ltd and Kiwa Digital.

“Ko Wiriwiri rāua ko Kina” can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play, links at Ko Wiriwiri rāua ko Kina Further information about “HOHI 1816” is available at HOHI 1816.

About Te Aho Ngārahu

Te Aho Ngārahu was established in 2017 as an initiative to improve the access to quality te reo Māori localised curriculum resources to support ākonga, kaiako and Kāhui Ako learning in and through te reo Māori in both Māori medium and English medium settings. For more information, see Te Aho Ngārahu

About Kiwa Digital

Kiwa Digital works with indigenous groups around the world using technology to preserve indigenous knowledge in formats that are relevant and accessible. See Indigenous Media Showcase.

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