Spark says is Kupu app has been downloaded 177,000 thousand times since its launch this time last year, with 2.7m images translated and 5m word pronunciations played.

Kupu was one of four apps for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week), highlighted by the Herald earlier this week - for whether you want to join the trend toward companies and organisations embracing te reo Māori, or just want to learn your own country's language, there's some smart software to help you along.

Homai te pakipaki? How business is embracing te ao Māori, te reo Māori
Corporate travel booking service now in Te Reo Māori

Developed in conjunction with AUT and Te Aka Māori Dictionary, and available free via the Apple and Android app stores, Kupu uses Google machine learning and your phone's camera - so you can take a photo of common object, then have the app tell you the word for it in te reo, along with an audio clip to help your pronunciation. It's an impressive bit of tech, and useful for expanding your vocab.

Using Spark's Kupu app to take a smartphone photo of an object, then get a translation.
Using Spark's Kupu app to take a smartphone photo of an object, then get a translation.

A just-released upgrade, Kupu 2, optimises the app for desktops tablets and includes optional push notifications to prompt you to learn new words through the day.

Spark's Māori Strategy Lead, Lisa Paraku says the launch of a desktop and tablet-friendly version comes off the back of overwhelming requests from teachers nationwide who have been wanting to use the app across a broad range of devices within schools.

Orewa College Middle School Teacher, Joel Langlands says, "Learning and teaching languages can be quite tricky, so having an e-learning tool like Kupu available for any school, teacher, parent, family or kiwi at home is an incredible resource that will allow us to weave te reo Māori into our tamariki's learning."

Dr Dean Mahuta of Te Aka Māori Dictionary and Senior Lecturer at AUT, says the new push notifications will play a key role in learning. "Repetition is a technique frequently used for learning and in the context of language, learning new material can be enhanced through spaced repetition and practice," he says.

Google's AI (artificial intelligence) smarts are also on-show with its own service, which has offered te reo since 2013.

Install Google Translate as an app for your smartphone, and you can use its camera to translate te reo text (or words from any one of 100 other languages)

Then there's Reobot, which was launched in April last year, harnessing AI to get more people practising everyday conversations in te reo. Co-founders Jason Lovell and Jonnie Cain built Reobot to run on Facebook Messenger, and there are now several thousand people using it.

By typing 'Reobot' into your Facebook Messenger pop-up, Reobot will start a conversation where it poses questions and answers in te reo and English side-by-side. And there you have it, an easy way to learn common Māori phrases and implement them in everyday life.


Learn more about Reobot on its Facebook page.

Language learning app Drops, which was named Google's Best App of 2018, which has added free te reo lessons for up to five minutes a day (for unlimited, ad-free access it costs $15 per month).

Drops lets you build your vocab using pop-quiz style format, and features voiceovers by Māori broadcaster Te Aniwa Hurihanganui.