On my recent trip to my home country I came across Kupu, a brilliant (and somewhat addictive) app that combines image recognition and machine learning with furthering the use of Te Reo Māori, the native language of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Although on the surface this isn’t something that addresses a big and urgent issue like climate change or biodiversity loss, it’s definitely a piece of creative that has a hell of a lot of heart, innovation, and gorgeous typography and design.
The image recognition is impressive even on complex scenes and open to user suggestions (although sometimes it misses the obvious like in the photo of my great-niece below)
Check out the kupu microsite for the full story behind this app.
In my lifetime I’ve seen the māori language – and the culture itself – go from appropriated and awkward use to being normalised, embedded and celebrated in the everyday life of many New Zealanders. Not every walk of life or every generation of course, and having grown up with very little honest exposure it’s taken a bit of conscious effort and shift to pronounce words more correctly and use what I know more (being part of the NZ Green Party has given me a great incentive too).
When I was 20, having someone greet me with ‘kia ora’ in a business setting would have seemed preposterous, but now it’s something that feels great. So I have a lot of aroha (love) for this app both as a piece of creative, and a symbol of a country embracing a multicultural voice.
Unfortunately you need a New Zealand-based App Store account to download Kupu (I did a cheat and started a new empty google account just to get it) but check out maori dictionary online to have a play with Te Reo.