Wintec students launch waiata app in time for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2020

Wintec IT students are launching a waiata app for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 14 September

A new waiata app created by Wintec students to make waiata accessible, easy and fun is ready in time for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week 14-20 September 2020. 

The Wintec Waiata app was created by students in Hami Te Momo’s Level 7 Bachelor of Applied Information Technology class late last year.  

To fulfil their final assignment students were given the exciting challenge: Create an easy-to-use app prototype that enables the user to learn Wintec waiata.  

Te Momo, who has taught the class for several years, has long used and promoted project-based learning in his classes, believing it is a crucial step in preparing industry-ready students.  

"The students worked with Wintec’s Māori Achievement Unit as their external client. This meant that there were many opportunities for them to work with the client closely and build strong relationships. 

“Blaine Rakena, Team Manager at Wintec’s Centre for Information Technology saw the potential in creating a waiata app. We approached the Māori Achievement Unit   with idea and that’s where it all began.” 

Wintec Māori Achievement Unit had long been thinking about a way to make learning and singing the waiata used at Wintec more accessible, easily available and fun.  

“Together we asked - how do we make waiata learning accessible?  Waiata printed on paper is a thing of the past, and at a noho (overnight marae stay) it’s not a good look. We thought – we're in a digital age, so why haven’t we moved with it? The app seemed like a great solution to all of these questions and issues,” says Te Momo. 

The class was split up into groups where each group was tasked with delivering their own unique version of the app. The process included research, design, coding and delivery. When the process was complete, the groups presented their ideas to the clients. 

The Whānau present their waiata app idea to the Māori Achievement Unit
'The Whānau' present their waiata app prototype to the Wintec Māori Achievement Unit

 “We were looking for functionality – can people use it? Can I easily find the waiata I need, understand it, and learn it?” said Wintec Project Coordinator Māori Achievement, Waimihi Hotere. 

“The concept we chose was selected because of the simplicity of the app design, it was in line with Wintec branding and featured key information about our Wintec marae, Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa. 

“The students also felt it was important that app users actually knew what they were singing about and they provided English translations. When people know what they’re singing about they get more into it and feel it more personally. 

“Every single group had great points. We thank each and every one for their efforts. It was exciting to see others’ perspectives on what we do and who we are.” 

Students in the winning group, ‘The Whānau’, – Toni Smith, Jon Sun, Stevie Berryman, Elysia Wanakore, James Brooks (JB) – worked just like a whānau, with each person knowing their strengths and playing to them.  

“You really have to cooperate along the way, and we had a great leader, Jon, to keep us all on track. If anyone needed help it was really easy to ask each other. There was no conflict,” says JB. 

As many of the students in ‘The Whānau’ whakapapa Māori, it was of high importance to them to create their app prototype with correct tikanga. This meant ensuring all translations to English were correct, and consulting with the Māori Achievement Unit throughout the process.  

“We really wanted to do go a good job for our tutors because they looked after us so well throughout our degrees. We wanted to make sure they were happy with what we were doing.”  

The group developed such a strong relationship with their tutors that the name, The Whānau actually came from Rakena and Te Momo themselves.  

“Hami is our ‘cuzzy’, and Blaine is our ‘uncle’. They call us ‘The Whānau’,” says JB.  

The team were so impressed with The Whānau’s app that they took it from a prototype made to fulfill a class assignment, to a fully-fledged Wintec branded app now available to download from Google Play and the App Store.  

"This was a really big step as there’s a lot of work that needs to happen to take it from a prototype we made in class as part of an assignment, to a Wintec app that meets international standards.”  

While events are restricted this year due to alert levels, Wintec has chosen to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2020 with a series of online initiatives. An important factor says Wintec Director Māori, Hera White is to launch projects that have some longevity beyond the national week of acknowledgement. 

“Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is a wonderful way to highlight the revitalisation of te reo Māori, but every day more people have an opportunity to use Māori words, practise their pronunciation and work towards having a conversation.  

“It’s heartening that our Wintec staff and students will now be able to sing waiata with the kupu (words) on their smartphone which they can take home and learn by heart. Our singing is going to go from strength to strength – ka rawe.”  

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