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How IT is shaping Māori storytelling for this year's Matariki

14 Jun 18

IT is at the centre of a new project to fuse Māori culture and an interactive waka sculpture.

The project is the work of third year Wintec Media Arts student Norefjell Davis and supported by Wintec academic Dr Jeremy Mayall.

The pair are working with traditional Māori music specialist Horomona Horo to compose taonga puoro (traditional Māori music) that will become part of an app for the Matariki Interactive Waka Sculpture.

According to Project lead and Wintec tutor Joe Citizen, the app is one of many elements of the waka sculpture that use technology to share Māori culture, music, and storytelling.

The musical compositions will be an artistic interpretation of the seven sisters of Matariki.

"Ko te piko o te māhuri, tera te tipu o te rakau," comments Horomona. "The way the sapling is shaped determines the growth of the tree."

The sculpture will be placed on the banks of the Ferrybank reserve in Hamilton, and the app will become one of the interactive elements of Matariki storytelling.

“The build of the waka sculpture is almost complete and we are now focussed on the interactive visual and storytelling aspects of it,” Citizen says.

“This part of our project work is as exciting as developing the physical structure as it takes it from a sculpture which embraces Māori cultural elements into the IoT (Internet of Things) space. As well as the app, this includes the IT infrastructure for the sculpture and a website.”

Third year Bachelor of Information Technology student Ashton Church is designing the back end of the app, while Hamilton IT company Aware Group is supporting the project’s IT infrastructure.

Wintec’s Centre for IT, Business and Enterprise researcher is developing the website, with design input from Media Arts tutor Jordan Foster and students.

 "An interesting space is in the IT side of the project which sees a convergence between our engineering and IT students. By integrating these previously different domains together, students are able to find solutions in the rapidly developing field of the Internet of Things, whilst also being embedded in Māori achievement values,” comments Citizen.

The waka sculpture is still in development so it does not yet have a formal name or installation date, although it is expected to launch this month.

The six-metre sculpture will have motion sensors, LED strip lighting and surround sound to encourage visitors to interact with the steel structure.

Iwi advisors have been asked to form the final name for the sculpture.