The Mataatua VR project lets users experience the ancestral founding story of Whakatāne by first virtually taking them inside the Ngāti Awa Wharenui – Mataatua, and then on a journey from Hawaiki to Aotearoa aboard the great voyaging waka Mātaatua.
Launched at a special event for local rangatahi and the Whakatāne community, the project combined new technologies with traditional Māori oral culture to create a modern and immersive storytelling experience.
The 6-minute experience first takes users inside Mataatua Wharenui where a 3D hologram of Joe Harawira, one of the advisors on the project, shares the founding story of Whakatāne through the Irakewa whakairo. Users are then transported onto the Mātaatua Waka, one of the great voyaging waka by which Polynesians migrated to Aotearoa New Zealand, and undertake a first person experience as a navigator on the journey from Hawaiki to Whakatāne.
The project was first conceived in 2016 and was brought to life in collaboration with Malcolm Mulholland, Te Kani Kingi, local Iwi - Ngāti Awa and Whakatāne educational institution - Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Funded by the New Zealand Film Commission, our objective and goal was to provide an example for Māori, particularly rangatahi, of how Māori oral histories and culture can be further shared and celebrated through new technologies.
Mataatua VR was officially selected for the 2020 ImagiNATIVE festival, the world's largest presenter of Indigenous screen content.