Mataatua Virtual Reality Project

Published date : Mon, 19 October 2020 05:15 PM


The ‘Mataatua VR’ project launches this Thursday at a free event in Whakatāne

October 16, 2020 : A new virtual reality project lets users experience Whakatāne’s founding ancestral story, by virtually taking them inside Ngāti Awa’s Wharenui – Mataatua. Launching this Thursday the ‘ Mataatua Virtual Reality (VR)’ project combines new technologies with traditional Māori oral culture to create a modern and immersive storytelling experience.

Officially selected for the 2020 ImagiNATIVE festival - the world's largest presenter of Indigenous screen content, the Mataatua VR launch event this Thursday is the global premiere and lets the Whakatāne community be a part of the wider festival. At the free and open event that will be held at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, the makers behind the project will talk through how it was made and visitors will be able to experience Mataatua VR for themselves, along with other work from ImagiNATIVE.

The Mataatua VR project was first conceived in 2016 and was brought to life by a collaboration between local Iwi - Ngāti Awa, Whakatāne educational institution - Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi , and Wrestler - a creative agency who specialize in bringing purpose driven creativity to life through human-centred storytelling and technical innovation. Funding from the New Zealand Film Commission saw the unique idea and labour of love become a reality.

The 6-minute VR experience first takes users insid e 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.

Te Kani Kingi, the project’s executive producer, Ngāti Awa and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi representative, says: “Our objective and goal for the Mataatua VR experience was to provide an example for Māori, particularly our rangatahi, of how our oral histories and culture can be further shared and celebrated through new technologies. It’s also an opportunity to show young Māori the potential career and creative opportunities that exist in this technological space.”

Kat Lintott, Wrestler Founder and co-director of the project alongside Tama Kawha, says: “This project was born out of the desire to truly explore the convergence of new technology and the tradition of oral storytelling in Māori Culture. We wanted to juxtapose traditional oral storytelling with one of the most modern ways, which led to this immersive VR experience. Making sure traditional Māori stories are not left behind is important not only for Māori, but all of Aoeteroa and the world. We hope that this project will help bring the history of Whakatāne to a new generation in a unique and inspiring new context.”



When: Thursday 22 October

Morning kōrero: 9am - 10am: Making of Mataatua VR kōrero. 10am-12pm drop in any time to try Mataatua VR and participate in ImagineNative screenings.

Afternoon kōrero: 1pm - 2pm: Making of Mataatua VR kōrero. 2pm - 4.30pm drop in any time to try Mataatua VR and participate in ImagineNative screenings.

Where: Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, Whakatāne



For further information, please contact:

Kat Lintott, Wrestler Co-founder and head of VR/AR


Tel: 0224306913

Joe Harawira of Ngāti Awa features in the VR experience

Joe Harawira of Ngāti Awa features in the VR experience

Imagery from the Mataatua VR experience

Imagery from the Mataatua VR experience