The New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, Te Puia, have created the world’s first Maori emoji keyboard featuring 150 new characters.
Called ‘Emotiki’, the keyboard features emojis that are both equivalent and unique to the traditional iOS or Android emoji keyboards.
Though the keyboard was launched earlier this year, the app has recently grown popularity with the advent of Christmas-themed emojis.
Emojis include tiki with a series of smiley-face style emotions, poi, and taiaha moves.
But some emoji reflect cultural norms unique to the Maori culture, like pukana (the fierce expression used in the haka) and kunik kisses (the traditional nose-to-nose greeting).
Te Puia’s general manager of sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, tells Stuff NZ the idea for the emoji keyboard came after they noticed young Maori posting kapa haka performances on social media. But they only had a limited amount of emojis to express certain emotions these children wished to express.
"All they could use were expressions and symbols from other countries. We wanted to give them another form of this language with Maori culture emotikis for an opportunity to express themselves," Atkinson-Crean said.
To ensure the emojis did not offend, the keyboard was made in consultation with Maori elders.
Atkinson-Crean said, "They loved them and gave us their blessing that we were on the right track.”
Emotiki is available on Android and iOS for free. The price was an important factor for Te Puia, Atkinson-Crean said:
"We've purposely made Emotikis free so they can be used with no barriers by all people, not only Maori and not just New Zealanders. That said, we hope Maori and Kiwis in general really embrace these cool little guys."