Gibson Group Manea Footprints of Kupe Ltd Manea: Footprints Of Kupe

Toitanga 2021 Credits
  • Creative Directors
    Allan Smith, Gary Scott
  • Design Directors
    Dan Mace, Marc Simpson, Jerry Hewitt
  • Team Members
    Sam Tozer, Dan Nathan
  • Contributors
    Hinurewa Te Hau, Karen Sidney, Raewyn Barry, Janine McVeagh
  • Client
    Manea: Footprints of Kupe

Our nation’s very first story – the discovery of Aotearoa – takes centre-stage in Manea: Footprints of Kupe, opened in December 2020.

Developed in partnership with Te Hua o Te Kawariki Trust, this permanent installation overlooks the natural beauty of the Hokianga harbour. Its’ show-stopping digital features include a gallery of eight large-screen interactives and a stunning, immersive, 4D theatre for 60 people.

Lead designer for the full visitor experience, the Gibson Group developed concepts and designs from the dream of four founding kaumatua to use the cultural capital of Te Hokianga Nui o Kupe to reinvigorate tourism, create employment for whānau, and revitalise stories of their whakapapa.

The Gibson Group worked with the Trust, Manea Footprints of Kupe Ltd, and stakeholders in regional and national government including Far North Holdings and the PGF, to develop a world-class visitor attraction where audiences take a 90-minute tour guided by members of the haukāinga. Two new buildings, designed for a magnificent site overlooking the harbour entrance, are reached by a walkway through the carvings of the atua and an emotional welcome into the modern wharenui.

The centrepiece of the Manea experience is five-screen digital theatre with immersive effects, where the epic navigation of Kupe, his inspirations and battle with Te Wheke o Muturangi, are retold larger than ever – 3.8m high and 11m wide. Two local performers welcome and narrate the journey, interacting with on-screen storytellers to give the whole performance a personal, human dimension.

From Wellington the Gibson Group worked in close collaboration with local creatives - leading artists with whakapapa to the Hokianga region - who helped realise a 20-minute multi-media spectacle featuring in-stage effects, moving lights and a kick-ass sound system. Chants and tauparapara, karakia and waiata blend with taonga puoro in a five-channel soundtrack, while wind and water sprays, scents and bass-kickers immerse the audience in the on-screen action.

The digital gallery of interactives carries a treasure-trove of iwi histories, from the return of Nukutawhiti and Ruanui along the paths of Kupe, through to modern day, with drill-down videos featuring the ahi kā.

Key design collaborators include Remote Productions, Netana Productions, Lot 23, Toulouse Group, Anderson Design and FIT Architects.

An iterative process through preliminary, detailed and developed design stages reflected the Trust's kaupapa; hapū control of IP, collaborative input into creative direction, with experts in each technical discipline bringing knowledge of te ao Māori.

More than its’ billing as a cultural centre with marae protocols, this visitor experience uses digital technology to link the present to the past – truly a tale of national significance.

The epic navigations of the great ancestor Kupe.

His first footprints and settlement in the harbour named for his departure.

And the return to Aotearoa of ngā waka o Te Tai Tokerau.