Emotiki is the world's first Maori emoji keyboard

Emotiki, the first Maori emoji keyboard, will be available free in mid July.
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Emotiki, the first Maori emoji keyboard, will be available free in mid July.

A green smiling tiki will replace the ubiquitous yellow smiley face in the first Maori emoji keyboard.

Rotorua visitor attraction Te Puia has developed Emotiki, a 150-character emoji keyboard with distinctly Maori icons ranging from piupiu (flax skirts) and hangi, to kete and koura (crayfish).

A small selection of moving emotikis will include poi and taiaha moves, and a winking tiki.

Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, said emoji was now a popular part of daily digital language, but there were limited New Zealand emoticons.

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That would be rectified when emotiki was officially launched in mid July, and the keyboard would be available free through app stores for iPhone and android. 

Atkinson-Crean said the idea for emotiki came from watching youngsters at kapa haka competitions celebrating their performances on social media. 

"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."

Some expressions would be quickly interpreted across cultures. Others, such as pūkana (fierce facial expression used in haka), were uniquely Maori. 

Te Puia elders were consulted over the concept, Atkinson-Crean said.

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"They loved them and gave us their blessing that we were on the right track.

"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."

 - Stuff

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