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Campaign Spotlight: Spark showcases how the beauty of storytelling can inspire te reo Māori use everyday in new Kupu app campaign

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Launched in 2018, Spark’s breakthrough te reo Māori translation app, Kupu, has been revamped with new functionality in time for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, allowing users to weave up to four of their own photos together into stories to be shared with friends and whānau. Spark’s ‘Kōrerotia Tō Kōrero – Tell Your Story’ campaign, created in collaboration with Colenso BBDO, is designed to inspire Kiwis to tell their own stores in te reo Māori.

The campaign’s launch AV tells the story of Tan, an immigrant to New Zealand who learns te reo Māori in order to ask his partner’s whānau for permission to ask her hand in marriage. The twist; it’s not her parents he’s asking, but her teenage daughters. Kupu is the first step in his journey to learning te reo Māori, and as he progresses, he finds his place not just in the family, but in Te Ao Māori.


Shot by Zia Mandivalla of Finch under Level 2 conditions, the shoot required an incredible amount of foresight and contingency planning.

Out of home and digital executions feature stories created with the new Kupu functionality, while social influencers are sharing their own stories as well.

To continue Spark’s commitment to making te reo Māori more accessible to all New Zealanders they are also hosting a live, online lesson in te reo Māori on Facebook hosted by Stacey Morrison. The theme of the lesson is He iti te kupu, he nui te kōrero – with a few words we can say a lot. Stacey will help participants upsize the stories they create on the Kupu app into full sentences, as putting it all together is one of the trickiest things for new learners to figure out. This class is live and interactive, and free for anyone to join.

Spark Māori Development Lead, Riki Hollings (Ngāti Ranginui) says, “Kupu has been our gift to Aotearoa to support the revitalisation of our greatest taonga – te reo Māori. It has been a constant on our roadmap and really showcases how digital platforms can play a meaningful role in te ao Māori with the app having over 317,000 downloads, over 3.5 million translated images and over 7.4 million audio plays (word pronunciations) since launch.”

Spark’s Campaign Lead, Ingrid Bennie says, “This year’s Kupu campaign builds on the emotional connection and trusted rapport we’ve built within the community through Kupu and our wider Spark Māori Business Strategy – Te Korowai Tupu, the cloak of growth. We took a leap to create an AV that will resonate with people differently but we think conveys a powerful message of cultures coming together and the widening of worldviews in a beautifully intimate moment. It’s one thing to market Māori culture but it’s another to give back to it in a meaningful way; so we’re incredibly proud and honoured to be in a position to do so.”

Dan Wright, Group Executive Creative Director at Colenso BBDO says, “We couldn’t be more proud to work again on this with Spark. Their dedication to making the language more accessable to the entire country, and to getting every detail right in the process is evident in the final outputs.”

Says Zia Mandviwalla, Director at FINCH, “It was a privilege to work on a project that was about inclusion and togetherness.”

Kupu is powered by Google Cloud Vision technology, combined with Te Aka Māori Dictionary translations. Te Aka Māori Dictionary brings with it a reputation for quality Māori language research and a pool of invaluable knowledge which has guided the project to ensure Spark had the right cultural engagement, awareness and guidance around the concept and creation of Kupu.


Client: Spark
Agency: Colenso BBDO
Production Company: FINCH
Director: Zia Mandviwalla
Managing Director: Corey Esse
Exec Producer: Jimena Murray
DOP: Ziga Zupancic
Editor: Tim Mauger
Post production: Perceptual Engineering
Colourist: Matic Prusnik
Online: Jon Baxter at Perceptual Engineering
Music composition: Cam Ballantyne at Beatworms
Sound design: Franklin Rd
Sound Engineer: Shane Taipari
Partners: Te Aka Māori Dictionary and Google
Media Agency: PHD

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