Rachel Fieldhouse

Domestic Travel

New Air NZ exhibit celebrates Māori culture

New Air NZ exhibit celebrates Māori culture

A new exhibition promises to take visitors through the skies of New Zealand by combining virtual reality with the real world.

The exhibition, launched by Air New Zealand, sees a virtual version of Pou Tikanga, Pou Pūrākau (cultural leader, storyteller) Joe Harawira take guests through the story of Matariki, the celebration of the Māori new year.

"Attendees will board the waka rererangi (canoe in the sky) to visit the Guardians Tanē Mahuta (forest), Tangaroa (sea), Papatūānuku (land), and Ranginui (sky) to experience the Matariki story, all without moving an inch,” Air New Zealand Senior Cultural Development Manager Jahmaine Cummings-Hodge said in a statement.

"A full 3D virtual version of Joe has been created which appears in the experience at a human scale. We have also replicated the carved waka in its entirety digitally using similar techniques, mimicking intricate carvings and textures."

A combination of facial motion capture, photogrammetry, and scanning techniques was used to bring the virtual versions of Joe and the waka to life, which can be viewed using Magic Leap headsets.

The technology used by Magic Leap layers digital objects onto the real world, meaning that light enters the eye just like it would if a real object were being viewed.

The virtual reality experience comes after the airline worked with Harawira for a new safety video celebrating Māori culture, released in May this year, and as part of the company’s efforts to support te ao Māori (the Māori worldview).

"As the national carrier, Air New Zealand has a responsibility to demonstrate an authentic and holistic support of Māori culture,” Cummings-Hodge said.

The experience, launched at the Canterbury Museum on June 18-19, will be live at Te Puia in Rotorua from June 22.

Image: @canterburymuseum (Instagram)