Our Special Island

by Millipede

Motu Ta'e'iloa (Our Special Island) is an educational, play-based app designed for young children, aged 6-7, in Tonga. It aims to help address significant health issues in Tonga caused by poor eating choices. The app, which was funded by DFAT, features distinctly Tongan design and characters, encourages positive attitudes among children to eating healthy food, and aims to increase awareness of local foods.

It allows children to grow and catch their own ingredients, and then create meals using traditional recipes with guidance from Maui-Kisikisi. After making a meal, children enjoy sharing the food and drink with their new onscreen friends Kelela and Pulotu.

Our design acknowledges:
the importance of open-ended and goal-directed play for children’s learning – in the app, children gather food in any order they wish and then choose a recipe to make
the appeal of touch-screen devices to children and the value of collaboration – eg, multi-touch functionality allows multiple children to interact simultaneously
the affordances of a multimodal approach that uses visuals, including animation; audio, including sfx, music, song and voice-overs; and a range of touch interactions
the need for age- and culturally appropriate content – throughout production, we sought advice from Tongan stakeholders to ensure appropriateness.

Design impact
The app was used in a 6-week trial in 11 Tongan primary schools. Before and after the trial, baseline and exit surveys were conducted with participating children to collect data on their understanding of healthy food and their attitudes towards it. Initial data analysis is extremely positive. For example, before using the app only 3% of children in the trial population correctly identified the healthy foods in a set of healthy and unhealthy options; whereas post-trial, 81% correctly identified healthy foods. Furthermore, post-trial 94% listed a healthy food as a favourite, whereas pre-trial almost 40% children listed...


Gold in Apps for Social Change 2020

Silver in Character Design for Social Change 2020

Silver in Character Design 2020

Silver in Interaction Design for Social Change 2020

Created by:

Design Director

Sandy Jenkins

Design Company



click here


Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Video (direct link)

click here


Entrant Companies

Millipede, AU
Federal Dept of Foreign Affairs & Trade, AU
Secondmuse, AU