Embracing Culture

January 23, 2017

Sometimes I wonder how it is that my career path didn’t lead to Anthropology. I love cultures and immersing myself in different ones. I find I throw myself into the culture of whatever country I visit. During the time we spent in Timor Leste I worked so hard at learning and speaking Tetum, even though it wasn’t the longest trip. Since Rafa was born I’ve taken an even greater interest in the Maori culture. There are so many ways to embrace culture. My favourites are food, music and language. I find often they are the quickest ways we can gain an understanding of new-to-us cultures.


This year I’ve signed up for a Maori language course (which begins soon) and I’ve been practising a little with Rafa through music and children’s books. I’m so determined to help Rafa understand his cultural heritage and to help him develop a sense of self that whilst perhaps privileged and ‘Kiwi’ is also understanding, inclusive and ‘Pacific’. To do this, I need to set an example. And learning the language is a small first step. Currently we speak three languages in our home, actually two more then three: Fijian and English (the third being Fiji Hindi, but not as often).

In addition to food, music and language I was introduced to another medium through which culture can be embraced: technology. I was thrilled when I noticed emojis on my iPhone were more representative of various skin colours. But what really got my attention was this Maori Emoji app called Emotiki. Emotiki is the world’s first Maori emoji app and was developed the visitor attraction Te Puia in Rotorua, New Zealand. The Emotiki icons were developed in consultation with Maori tribal leaders, which is one of the reasons I feel comfortable sharing and using the app. Collaboration and consultation, I feel, is key. The aim of the app is to share Maori culture with the world using technology, particularly emojis (the worlds fastest growing language!).

The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. There are over 200 Maori and Kiwi cultural icons. The Emotiki stickers are made up of images that can be sent in messages, placed on photos and used on other social media platforms. I’m having a lot of fun using my Emotiki stickers, and it certainly gives me Kiwi friends living overseas a real thrill!

You can find more about Emotiki on their website | Facebook page | Instagram

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