Preschoolers Launch Samoan Language App

Tino e Tasi Preschool in Wainoni, Christchurch, has broken barriers with the launch of a Samoan Language App produced in-house and with the direct participation of its own pre-schoolers.



“We produced the App by asking our three to four-year-olds, to draw a picture of a game they like to play on a tablet or phone at home. The kids were at the centre of the project from the very start and it’s their ideas that drove it,” says Zohar Marshall of Tino e Tasi.


“The idea was to make learning a game and something our tamaiti would relate to. It’s interactive and has a real Sesame Street vibe. They just love it.”


The App, O Luga o le Motu, is a language game that can be found on the iTunes store. The game is about life in Samoa and the type of things found on the islands. The children are presented with a series of pictures and underneath each picture are some scrambled letters to match the audio and the picture. When they get the correct answer, the children move on to the next level in the game.


“The marvellous thing is that they hear the words in their own voices. We did all the words and songs live in the studio with them. We involved them at every step of the way, so they really feel this is their own work which of course it is,’ says Zohar.


The pre-schoolers were also taught about code and how code makes games and computers work.


“They’re learning about code and the basic principles of digital technology. And they’ve really got it. Digital literacy can begin at pre-school. It’s quite amazing as


I never anticipated this. It’s also really important because digital technology is their future, and this empowers them,” says Zohar.


The App was funded through the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ Toloa Community Fund which aims to increase the number of Pacific people employed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


“These initiatives are just the kind of initiatives I want to support as we aim to encourage our young people to be interested in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio.


“When we received the application to develop a Samoan Language Game for an iPhone or iPad we immediately recognized its potential. Here we had an opportunity both to teach language and create an awareness of digital technology. It really was a winning combination,” says Diane Fenika, Southern Regional Manager, of MPP.


The children’s ideas were put into final form by Auckland-based Kiwa Digital which specializes in the production of experiential digital books.


“We’ve done similar Apps for Te Reo, but this is the first time the kids have generated the specific word-puzzle content. That makes the technology truly child-centric. It’s turned learning into a fun game and that’s really powerful in terms of engagement. You can’t get them off it,” says Steven Renata, Chief Executive Officer, Kiwa Digital.


Working with another Pacific community to help reinvigorate their language through the use of digital technology was also an added bonus, says Steven.


“We are humbled and honoured by the experience.”


Minister Sio says he is committed to growing Pacific leadership at all levels, “I especially want to grow the number of our Pacific young people learning STEM subjects, so they don’t miss out on future opportunities that technology provides. All the better too when they can use modern technology to hold onto their Pacific languages and cultures.”


Tino e Tasi was officially launched the App as part of Samoan Language Week.


For more information or to get the app visit: