Friday 13 September 2019
A new learning resource aimed at raising a wider appreciation of te reo Māori and our history was launched at the New
Zealand Maritime Museum in Auckland Thursday.
“Asajiro” is a tri-lingual interactive app that adds a unique perspective to this week’s kōrero on te reo Māori and our
The app uses a comic format to tell the true story of Noda Asajiro, the first Japanese settler to New Zealand. At the
age of seven Asajiro was mistakenly left aboard a ship that set sail from his home port while he slept. After years at
sea as a sailor, he eventually landed in New Zealand in the late 1880s, where he married Rihi Tipene Te Ahu from Kawhia.
They and their descendants then had to deal with the prejudices faced by a mixed race family: ridiculed for being
different, their lives were very difficult, especially during the two World Wars.
The story was researched and written by Sharon Aroha Hawke of Ngāti Whātua and Ngāti Mahuta lineage who has whakapapa to
the subject directly – Noda Asajiro is her Great-Grandfather. It is illustrated by comic artist Jem Yoshioka, whose
comics tell evocative stories with themes of belonging, place and heritage. Japanese voice acting is by local family
Tomoko and Manabu Iwamoto and their 10 year old son Taika.
The app provides a unique perspective on te reo Māori and our history. As author Sharon Aroha Hawke said at the launch,
“This is one story from our history that has whakapapa links to Waikato-Tainui, and links to important themes of
dislocation and alienation across Aotearoa.“
Comic artist Jem Yoshioka added “I’m so excited for people to read this story, and uncover the connection between Japan
and Aotearoa through Asajiro. My Japanese heritage means the story of the first Japanese settler in Aotearoa is a part
of my history too.”
The app was produced through the Ministry of Education’s Te Aho Ngārahu fund, an initiative to improve access to quality
te reo Māori localised curriculum.
As demonstrated at the launch by Kiwa Digital CEO Steven Renata, it utilises Kiwa Digtal’s unique immersive technology
and includes te reo Māori, English and Japanese narration, literacy support, interactivity, and integrated teacher
Asajiro can be downloaded at no cost from the App and Google Play Stores by searching on the title “Asajiro”.
About Te Aho Ngārahu
Te Aho Ngārahu was established in 2017 as an initiative to improve the access to quality te reo Māori localised
curriculum resources to support ākonga, kaiako and Kāhui Ako learning in and through te reo Māori in both Māori medium
and English medium settings. Since 2017 the annual budget for Te Aho Ngārahu is $1.91 million. For more Te Aho Ngārahu
About Kiwa Digital
Kiwa Digital works with indigenous groups around the world using technology to preserve indigenous knowledge in formats
that are relevant and accessible. For more, Indigenous Media Showcase.