Ngāti Awa

Carvings in the Mataatua wharenui come alive

Top-rated tourism attraction
Client
Ngāti Awa
Year
2023
Experience yourself
Visit this exhibition
Type
Projection

The Challenge

After more than 130 years away, Mataatua Wharenui – New Zealand's most travelled Māori meeting house – has been returned to the Ngāti Awa tribe.

The Idea

Create an immersive experience to tell the history of the wharenui and Ngāti Awa; in a way that would respect and enhance this ancient building without eclipsing it.

The Tech

Click Suite achieved this ambitious project using ‘digital projection mapping’ – made challenging due to the richly detailed carvings and tukutuku (woven flax panels) we had as our projection canvas. However the result allows details to be highlighted and visitors get to really appreciate the craftsmanship in the wharenui.

By tracing around the carvings, a stencil was made, which allowed us to then project on very specific parts of the carvings; highlighting them to great effect. The images above show some early experimentation.

By just shining on the tukutuku panels, you can suddenly see the fine work, and the stories embedded in them.

During the animation, there is a point where we we highlight all the people depicted in the carvings, and we make special features of their eyes. It is used to illustrate a part in the story where the villagers were envious - their eyes turn green and squint.

The Results

When visitors enter the meeting house they are treated to stories about ancestral artefacts - yet done a way they have never experienced before - thanks to the melding of ancient carvings and modern technology. We think that the result speaks for itself in the words of the visitors to Mataatua… “Amazing” - “Blown away” - “Outstanding” - “Transfixed” Sleepy Whakatane is now the talk of the resurgent Māori tourism industry thanks to a few sophisticated tricks of the light.

This is a short sample from the end of the animation which gives some idea of the effect - though nothing beats sitting in the whare and seeing it for yourself.

Work index