Massey student project rolls out to schools nationwide


Design graduates Alesha Garton, Dion Fowler and Kelsey Gee.


A te reo Māori learning resource developed by a group of design students from Massey University has received nationwide funding from the Ministry of Education.

From Monday June 3, the songbook and videos will become available to more than 20,000 early childhood centres, kura and primary schools around New Zealand.

Te Kōtare is a language teaching resource based on waiata created by the late Jenny Shearer, an early childhood educator with a deep passion for teaching her students te reo and te ao Māori. After Ms Shearer passed away, her husband Grant and family friend Dion Howard fundraised to see her dream realised and recorded the Te Kōtare songbook with well-known Wellington musicians, including producer Lee Prebble and artists Matiu Te Huki and Warren Maxwell.

As part of their Creative Enterprise paper where students competitively pitch to real-life clients, Bachelor of Design honours students Kelsey Gee and Alesha Garton led a team of 14 students from all six design majors to develop Te Kōtare into a resource pack for educators. The pack is comprised of a songbook, corporate identity and strategy, an immersive marketing campaign and a series of animated videos.

Ms Gee, who graduated in Wellington yesterday, says the students realised they had an opportunity to make a positive difference in the teaching and learning of te reo and te ao Māori.

“We came up with the idea to create a full resource package, marketing campaign and business case that had the potential to eventually be picked up by the Ministry of Education.

“We then pitched this idea to our clients Grant and Dion, and I remember they thought we were quite ambitious, but were excited to see what we could do and jumped on board with it,” Ms Gee says.

Kelsey Gee at her graduation on Thursday, May 30. 


Mr Howard says it was a pleasure to work with the students, who produced a highly professional standard of work.

“While this was a project commissioned by a small team, the fact that the Ministry of Education has picked up not only the music and lyrics but also the overall design and artwork is evidence of the competence and passion of the Massey students. The quality of design also gave us the confidence to approach Warren Maxwell, who also generously contributed guest vocals,” he says.

The Creative Enterprise paper in the Bachelor of Design helps to prepare students for careers in design by equipping them with real-world skills by working with real clients.

Senior lecturer Karl Kane was a project mentor for the students working on Te Kōtare. "This wonderful work exemplifies the inter-disciplinary, user-centred approach to design we champion within Massey's design degree, and illustrates our students' growing confidence and ability to approach design challenges through both Pākehā and te ao Māori lenses," he says.

Massey’s College of Creative Arts offers the oldest, largest and most comprehensive design programme in Aotearoa New Zealand, with award-winning alumni that hold key positions in industries worldwide. It is internationally benchmarked by Red Dot International, achieving the number one position for design concept in Asia Pacific (2017), and ranked in the Top 100 for Art and Design by QS University subject rankings (2017 and 2018).

In the Tertiary Education Commission’s recently released 2019 performance-based research rankings, the College of Creative Arts has the largest number of top-ranked (A and B) researchers in New Zealand in the field of Design and Visual Arts.

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