Pā Reo Māori to go live on Minecraft

By Tumamao Harawira

A te reo Māori teacher from Northland is building a pā on the highly popular gaming platform Minecraft, to help youth get engaged in te reo.

Shaquille Shortland, along with his partner Sharneece Joyce, came up with the idea to make te reo accessible online, which he thinks is crucial to the continued growth of te reo.

"I saw that most children were playing this game, Minecraft. I also thought about using other games like Runescape. Simms was another one."

"It was to create a safe space for people who are keen on learning the language."

Minecraft is the best-selling video game, with over 238 million copies sold and nearly 140 million monthly active users as of 2021.

Shortland says what makes Minecraft great is the sheer breadth of the game, which makes the idea of building a reo Māori pā so great for learners of the language.

Moana and Māui characters

"The reo classes will have a collaborative approach in all the many houses, such as astronomy, weaving, and sacred learning - those many different spaces of our ancestors."

Shaq and Sharneece have created Moana and Māui characters to make them more enticing to the younger generation.

"Māui is famous, Moana is famous, especially to our kids. So that was the reason, to make the classes light and entertaining."

Shaq also says this is the future for learning te reo online.

"We see the future of these kinds of things in the metaverse. Smart people are creating worlds that are separate from the real world."