IDIA 3 Te Ara Matihiko

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Johnson Witehira
  • Client
    Microsoft New Zealand

When Microsoft came to IDIA the brief was simple, create something mesmerising that will inspire rangatahi to get involved in technology.

As we thought about interactivity and the potential to bring animation to life, we made a connection to our own pūrakau, particularly the origins of whakairo (carving). In some tribal accounts 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? 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 animation the ihi, the wehi and wana, that sense of awe when standing in front of exceptional Māori artworks.

Simultaneously, while exploring the technical aspects, we envisioned a broader narrative that connected Microsoft's pioneering work in virtual and augmented realities and Māori perspectives on navigating physical and metaphysical spaces. Eventually, we found ourselves immersed in our creation stories, tales that reveal the genesis of the universe, from Te Kore (the void) to Te Pō (the night) and finally to Te Ao Mārama (the world of light). We realised that these three stages formed the essence of our installation. Users must unlock each subsequent plane to navigate the animation, engaging with and manipulating specific elements within Te Kore, Te Pō and Te Ao Mārama.

In the first section of the animation, Te Kore, manuhiri are greeted by primordial timeless figures of atua and kaitiaki (guardians). The figures rest in a mysterious space of potential as sparks of energy and light reminiscent of data points swirl behind them. In what is a first for Māori art and animation, the tiki figures are brought to life, with the heads and eyes of tiki following those who engage with the animation. To unlock the next stage of the animation, Te Pō, users must place the eyes of the central pou, which appear as glowing elements on either side of the animation, into the spaces on the face. As in carving, the eyes are the last piece to be done, enabling site.

Once in Te Pō manuhiri find a large pare (lintel) like composition, filled with smaller tiki figures referring to the children of Rangi and Papa. The pare structure was deliberately used to connect with pare in carving, which mark important thresholds between physical and spiritual realms. In Te Pō users move the smaller tiki groups using hand gestures to unlock the final piece of the animation, Te Ao Mārama, the world of light and enlightenment. Here users are greeted by several representations of Tāne including Tāne-te-pukenga, Tāne-te-waiora (central figure holding waters of life) and Tāne te wānanga (holding toki).