Ko Wiriwiri rāua ko Kina is an interactive bi-lingual app aimed at students aged 8 to 13 years, which 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 schoolgirls, Wiriwiri and Kina as they start school together and learn to write their first letters and syllables in te reo.

“It's a fictional story that's presented both in English and in te reo Māori,” Steven Renata, CEO of the app developer Kiwa Digital, explains.

Renata says a unique feature of the app is the ability to swipe your finger across the text, and hear it speak to you in either language.

When the user double taps a word in English, it will spell the word out letter by letter, and in te reo Māori it will pronounce it phonetically. 

“That gives you quite a broad range of literacy aspects that connect both text and audio. So it's really helpful for reading and learning to speak,” Renata says.

Learning resources integrated into the app for teachers include curriculum links, learning activities, an extensive list of resources 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.

Ko Wiriwiri rāua ko Kina was 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.

Speaking at the launch in August, Lemon said the story within the app explores 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.

“... Māori 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.”

“It's good to see the stories coming out so that both cultures are getting equal recognition for the contributions of the time,” Renata says.

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

The app can be downloaded here for iOS devices, and here for Android devices.