Māori emojis arrive late, but in time for Christmas

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute launches Emotiki

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, Te Puia in Rotorua, has launched what is claimed to be the world’s first Māori emoji app, Emotiki. It provides 200 Māori and Kiwi cultural icons “for people to share their kiwiana moments with each other and the world.”

According to Te Puia, the free downloadable app for iPhone and Android is usable and intuitive, allowing users to click on individual Emotiki icons and share them across social media platforms, messaging and email, assign to contacts, save to devices, print and more.

Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, said: “We announced the development of the world’s first Māori emoji app in May, and since then a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes, including working closely with Te Arawa and Te Puia pakeke (elders), to make this Te Arawa led app a true representation of who we are.”

Atkinson-Crean added: “We wanted to give people, particularly our young people, another way to express themselves and our unique Māori culture. The Emotiki app is a light-hearted, easy-to-use way to share the meaning of Māori words and concepts with other cultures and with all New Zealanders.”

In the initial announcement, Te Puia had said it would launch Emotiki in July. No explanation was give for the delay.H owever in response to queries from eager would be users, Te Puia posted on the Emotiki Facebook page in late July a statement noting that the promised July delivery had not eventuated and saying “Please rest assured, there's a WHOLE lot we're doing in the background to make sure this app is truly usable and intuitive as we know you'll expect, and obviously it's taking a touch longer than we anticipated. We totally appreciate your patience and we'll be sure to keep you informed as we solidify a launch date.”

Emotiki icons include tiki pūkana expressions, taiaha, poi, hāngi, kai moana, people – young and old – even the ubiquitous Māori wardens are featured. Atkinson-Crean said new emojis would be added and Te Puia planned to canvass suggestions for icons through upcoming social media competitions.

The Emotiki app is available to download for free on smartphones and tablets with iOS8 and later and Android 4.4 and later. For iOS10 the app also includes a sticker pack for use in iMessage, a messaging extension that, according to Te Puia“takes emojis to the next level – meaning they’re intuitive, easier to use, can be drawn on, enlarged, layered and more.”

Atkinson-Crean said: “Te Puia is one of the first in New Zealand to utilise sticker pack technology, all in time for summer road trips and shenanigans, as well as the 2017 Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival. A similar sticker-like system is also currently being developed for use on Android devices and will be included in the app once it’s ready to go.”

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