A teacher at Pekerau School says a new te reo Māori translator app that was launched last week gives students the opportunity to learn about their whakapapa.
Israel Hepi and her students were involved in the production of a promotional video last week for the real-time translator app, Ōkupu – Your Words.
The students came up with phrases, Israel then put the phrases through the app and then together they practised pronouncing the translation.
Co-creator Aroha Turner says it was her dream to have the app being used in kura.
"How I see it is that they'll be learning te reo Māori from their kaiako [teacher], that'll then transfer into their kainga [home] and then out into the community," says Aroha.
"It's just going to have a ripple effect, that's my vision."
On the day, filming coincided at Te Korowai Whakamana Otaki School in Wellington – at that end the teacher and students were sending te reo Māori translations back to the class at Pekerau.
Israel says Ōkupu differs from other translator resourses because it allows users to search whole sentences instead of just singular words.
"With te reo Māori, sentences change depending on the context and the dialect also changes," says Israel.
"Because the app provides sentences we are able to try to have full conversations in te reo Māori."
She says it will also help students to learn more about who they are.
"For these tamariki it's not just about the language, it's about them connecting with their whakapapa and having a sense of identity, a sense of belonging. It's about them learning who they are as Māori and that's why the language is important," says Israel.
At the end of filming the students were treated to a surprise.
Aroha had organised for some of New Zealand's top TikTok artists to meet the students via Zoom.
Aroha came up with the idea of Ōkupu after her son came home from school with a Mahuru Māori merchandise pack in 2018.
Mahuru Māori was launched by Paraone Gloyne, also co-creator of Ōkupu, 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.