More Thoughts


The Te Aka Māori Dictionary app was due for some updates. The Te Murumāra Foundation sought our help to redevelop, platform and host the application to ensure open and speedy access to the dictionary.

Sharing the knowledge

The Te Aka Māori Dictionary, an English to Māori dictionary, was created by educator John Moorfield. John was affectionately known as Te Murumāra. After John’s passing, the Te Murumāra Foundation was created.

Through the foundation, the print dictionary was made into an online dictionary and app in 2010 by John’s son, Peter Moorfield. Through APIs, this online dictionary powers many other apps and translations, such as the Kupu app, and Māori television, and it even helps with some translations for the Oxford University Press.

But it’s fair to say that app development and standards have moved on a little since originally being built in 2010. So the Te Murumāra Foundation employed Dynamo6 to help re-develop, re-platform and host the application. Helping to ensure that te reo Māori is shared with the next generation through the app.

koru fiddlehead 3x2

Updating the app

There was a decision point to update the older apps or rebuild them. Understanding the Te Murumāra Foundation’s goals to have a simple to maintain and update application, we opted to rebuild the apps in React Native and use a single codebase. 

The ease of offering this feature parity for iOS and Android users were also drivers towards the cross-platform redevelopment. It will help to keep things simpler for any future feature additions and it significantly reduces development time.

Bringing it together

Working closely with the Te Murumāra Foundation’s chosen designer we built the interfaces to bring the designs to life. The app adapts to different screen resolutions, and mobile device users get the same excellent experience.

Building cross-platform was not without its challenges though. We actually needed to develop a media player UI that worked across platforms so that the wildlife audio recordings played harmoniously. The animated bird of the Te Aka Māori Dictionary logo also posed some challenges to ensure the interactions displayed seamlessly across different device sizes.

Solid foundations

Re-hosting of the app and website was also completed as part of this project. The applications are now using Google Cloud Platform. The choice of infrastructure was to ensure the website could efficiently scale during high-interest periods. The hosting also allows effective updates and maintenance to the APIs that power many other businesses using its translation services, ensuring efficient and accurate Maori-English translations

Delivering fantastic outcomes

One gripe with the old app was that it was a bit slow. The newly platformed app is quick to load. (Thanks heaps to the Google Cloud Platform based hosting we re-platformed the app on.) But, that’s not the only success of this project, others include:

  • Delivering the app as a cross-platform solution
  • Slick interfaces and interactions across the app
  • Scalable and cost-effective hosting that can handle peaks of traffic
  • And of course, completing the project to time and budget

Working with Dynamo6 has been a good experience. Overall it was a seamless project, working within our timelines and budgets. There were no surprises in the project and the communication was very good.

We were clear about what was going to happen, we were provided with a project outline and milestones and there were regular updates to know how things were progressing. The Dynamo6 team made sure we considered the options and possibilities available to us and suggested what would work based on our goals.

We have a great structure to build onto in future for the app and robust hosting of the website and API by using Google Cloud. It’ll allow us to scale efficiently during peak periods, such as Māori Language Week.

Peter Moorfield - Te Murumāra Foundation

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