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The latest New Zealand television show taking on the world

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tamariki are being encouraged to use Te Reo Māori at home, and explore nature’s wonders, thanks to a New Zealand animated children’s television series.

Created for children aged three to seven by Christchurch-based WhitebaitMedia, Darwin and Newts follows the adventures of a young brother and sister duo, who have an affinity for science, problem solving and the natural world.

Season Two, voiced by actors, Sara Stone, Sarah Hart, George Henare and Faith Gunn, has just launched on TVNZ 2 and TVNZ OnDemand. Season One has already proven to be a global hit among parents and is now on Youtube and in eight languages and 50 countries.

WhitebaitMedia series producer Emma Martini says the show focusses on inspiring kids to explore their own backyards and to investigate and experiment with the things they find along the way.

"Kids are naturally curious. Darwin and Newts is all about building on that, highlighting real-world situations - big and small - and then offering early learning science concepts to help extend young minds."

"We’ve created something really special with the series, and also a huge resource of corresponding hands-on craft and science lessons that we hope schools, teachers and whānau can use as an educational tool - or even a lockdown one," says Emma.

While season one has already been translated into te reo Māori by Tweedie Waititi of Kokko Media, the same process is now underway for series two.

"Reversioning is a great way to get our reo into homes and to our tamariki. Darwin and Newts is a fun, educational series, making it accessible to everyone and allowing whānau to learn together," says Tweedie.

The English version also incorporates te reo Māori into every episode, instantly adding new words to young vocabularies.

Darwin and Newts fan and parent, Amelia Sharman says the show is her four year-old daughter’s favourite show.

"She finds it funny, has learnt so much both in terms of science and te reo Māori, and just loves all the characters. It has inspired so much play, joy and learning in our house."

Darwin and Newts was first released in 2018, with new characters and improved imagery featuring in this latest season.

The series was originally written around the adventures of two boys but a discussion with a prominent New Zealander encouraged a rethink.

"It was Dr Siouxsie Wiles who told us we needed to have a female lead character as well. We know it is important to increase the representation of women in science, so we made the change to have the brother sister duo and are so glad we did," says Emma.

The series has been designed to be consumed in short snippets, with episodes 11 minutes in length alongside one minute craft and science ideas that come with each episode.

Darwin and Newts is available on TVNZ2 weekdays 8.15am, with episodes also available on TVNZ on DEMAND. Season one is available on YouTube.

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