Goodbye smiley … hello emotiki as NZ website launches Maori emojis

By Ewan McDonald

Goodbye smiley … hello emotiki as NZ website launches Maori emojis
New Zealanders (and anyone else who wants) can now use Kiwiana-themed emojis instead of yellow smiley faces.

Fancy starting your txts with “Morena” rather than “Gidday”?

Like signing off emails with “Ka kite ano” rather than “Cheers”?

Emotiki, an emoji app with a range of 200 uniquely Maori or Kiwiana characters and icons, was officially launched today.

The app allows users to communicate through a green tiki rather than the yellow smiley.

The tiki convey a range of emotion, from the universal to the Maori-specific – users can express themselves with pukana, a fierce facial expression used in haka.

Other elements of tikanga (culture) are incorporated, with hangi, boil-up, kiwi or marae emoji on offer.

The emotiki, are separated into five categories.

Emotiki (akin to emoji but with green tiki faces); Nga Tangata (people of various styles and genders); He Taputapu (roughly, tools); Creatures (with a specifically Kiwi bent, if you’ll excuse the pun); Te Aoturoa (nature, with connotations of taonga or treasures).

The emotiki is the brainchild of Eruera West, project manager of Rotorua tourist destination Te Puia, who came up with the idea after a colleague told him young Maori people were concerned they had no emoji to celebrate their culture.

“It’s about showing that tikanga Maori has and can evolve… we’re all about perpetuating the education around Maori culture,” he said.

After consulting with local kaumatua (elders), who loved the idea, the organisation decided to stage a Christmas launch so “people will love them, share them with friends and whanau (extended family) over Christmas”.

“What we can do now is do things technologically, we can evolve for a range of people.”

While he hopes emotiki is adopted among Maori, he stressed the emoji is designed for anyone who has an interest in Maori culture.

“Maori, Pakeha, even tourists – we hope anyone who wants to share the Maori language and culture with us will use it, and tell their friends.”

The Emotiki app is available now to download free on smartphones and tablets with iOS 8 and later versions, and Android 4.4 and later operating systems.

To download the app, visit the AppStore or Play Store, and then get sharing. To find out more information on the app and how it works, see


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