Lonely Planet Writer

New Zealand: the world's first Maori emoticons are coming soon

We’ve had Emoji, Kimoji, Charlie Sheen-ojis and now there’s Emotiki, the first Maori emoji keyboard. The app will be available free from mid-July.

A green, smiling tiki will take the place of the classic yellow smiley face in the first Maori emoji keyboard, developed by Rotorua tourist attraction Te Puia. There are 150 characters with Maori icons like kete, koura, hangi and piupiu, and also some moving icons.

Kiri Atkinson-Crean, Te Puia general manager, said emoticons were now a part of daily digital language, but that there were very few that related specifically to New Zealanders.


The App will work on both iPhone and Android, and according to Atkinson-Crean, the idea for Emotiki came from seeing youngsters at kapa haka competitions celebrate the events 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,” Atkinson-Crean told Stuff NZ.

Local elders were consulted on the designs to make sure the Emotiki remained true to New Zealand and Maori culture. However they’re not exclusively for use down under – people all over the world will be able to add an Emotiki keyboard to their Smartphone.