The first mobile app connecting people wanting help translating English into te reo Māori with skilled translators was launched on Monday - and its origins are right here in Te Awamutu.

Ōkupu – Your words - provides accurate translations in real-time at a small price.

The app is the brainchild of Te Awamutu mum Aroha Turner and passionate te reo Māori advocate Paraone Gloyne, one of the country's foremost language experts.

Aroha came up with idea after her son came home from school with a Mahuru Māori merchandise pack in 2018.

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Mahuru Māori was launched by Paraone in 2014 and challenges participants to speak te reo Māori as much as possible during the month of September (Mahuru).

Aroha later received a text completely in te reo Māori and struggled to find someone to help her translate the message.

It was a light bulb moment for her and she approached Paraone with the idea for Ōkupu.

"I told him I've got this idea, conceptualised by Mahuru Māori and he was instantly in love with it," she says.

She hopes Ōkupu will help connect users at a deeper level and encourage them to speak te reo Māori with confidence.

"Ultimately, I hope this app ignites the mauri of their journey of discovery and they want to learn more and grow," she says.

Along with helping people learning the language, Paraone says Ōkupu also acknowledges the value of the highly skilled translators.

"Translators get annoyed that they're often expected to provide translations for free," he says.

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"Every day social media is bombarded by people who want help to use te reo Māori words in posts. They don't want to use the wrong words or use words out of context," he says.

Ōkupu is the first real-time te reo translation app.
Ōkupu is the first real-time te reo translation app.

Paraone hopes Ōkupu will become the go-to app for te reo Māori translations and sets the benchmark price for translators.

While there are a growing number of te reo Māori apps online, Ōkupu is the first to connect users with actual people, rather than a machine translation.

Translators will also provide an audio copy of the translation, so users are able read and listen to their text, further helping their learning.

Ōkupu is primarily aimed at the growing number of people posting in te reo Māori on social media and provides accurate translations of up to 15 words starting around 60 cents a word.

For longer texts, or entire documents, Ōkupu also provides a commercial translation service, which is also available via the app and website.

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The Android version of the app is available for download now and the iOS
version later this month.

Ōkupu is funded by Māori broadcasting funding agency Te Māngai Pāho to promote Mahuru Māori and Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.