IDIA 3 Te Aho Matihiko | The Digital Thread

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Johnson Witehira
  • Client
    Microsoft New Zealand
Judge's comments:

A deeply considered idea, executed beautifully. We loved the relationship between your hands, and the digital space that created a playful experience. They used the medium and techniques to the advantage of the story.


How do we get rangatahi inspired in technology? How do we show them that their culture has a place in the future? And how do we show them they have a role in building that future? These are the pātai that were at the front of mind for IDIA when creating Te Aho Matihiko, an interactive digital installation.

With an open brief, Microsoft NZ challenged IDIA to develop something that would capture the imagination of young Māori. We knew from the start that interactivity would play a part as the gap between the physical and digital worlds narrows. However, we didn't just want to use technology for the sake of it. We wanted the interactive elements to connect and support our ideas and stories. As we explored different ideas around technology, innovation and toi Māori, we were drawn back to the origin of our art forms, particularly whakaairo (carving). In some of our traditions, carving was brought to Te Ao Tūroa, the world of light, by Rua-te-Pupuke. In this story, Rua enters the house of Tangaroa, god of the sea, and in this house, the carvings are said to have been talking to each other. This made us think, wouldn't it be cool if we could do that with technology? If we could somehow bring our carvings to life through an installation with motion tracking and animation. With this in mind, we began to test and develop ways to create digital pou and tiki that would follow users as they interacted with the installation. For us, this would give the artworks the ihi, the wehi and wana, that sense of awe when standing in front of exceptional Māori artworks.

While building and testing the technical components of the installation, we continued to frame up a broader narrative centred on the idea of moving between space and realms. For IDIA this connected back to the work Microsoft leads around virtual and augmented realities. Again, we wondered what might be the key metaphor through a Māori lens around traversing physical and non-physical or spiritual spaces. Eventually, we came to our creation stories of how the universe came to be, from Te Kore to Te Pō and Te Ao Mārama. These three stages make up the different pieces of the installation. Users can unlock the next plane as they engage with and move items in each section.

In the first section, Te Kore, manuhiri are greeted by atua and kaitiaki, who follow them through the scene with motion tracking. Placing the eyes of the central pou into his head unlocks the next space, Te Pō. In Te Pō manuhiri are meet by a large Pou in a composition mimicking a carved pare. These pare (lintel) carving mark unique places of transition, such as that into a wharenui. After moving elements into the right stage here, users finally arrive in Te Ao Tūroa. The world of long-standing light created by Tāne-nui-a-Rangi.