Peter Jackson brainstorming high-tech tourist attraction for Matiu-Somes Island

Matiu-Somes Island's history may be told through digital storytelling and augmented reality. Photo/file
Matiu-Somes Island's history may be told through digital storytelling and augmented reality. Photo/file

Sir Peter Jackson is in talks to bring augmented reality and digital storytelling to Matiu-Somes Island in Wellington Harbour as part of a proposed tourist attraction to teach visitors about early Maori inhabitants.

Jackson has been having discussions with Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust about the high tech project, which would aim to draw visitors into what life was like for the island's first Maori inhabitants, and teach them history.

Dominic Sheehan, general manager of Jackson's Wingnut Films Productions, said it was early days at this point and it would be jumping the gun to comment on any ideas for the island.

He said augmented reality would be like wearing glasses and seeing digital images in the same room, as opposed to virtual reality, which involved putting on glasses and seeing a completely different world.

It was too early to say how augmented reality might be used on the island.

"We are in the early stages of this journey together, but the idea potentially involves using various media, including digital storytelling and the latest in virtual and augmented reality technology, to tell stories about the Maori history of Wellington and Taranaki Whānui.

"We're looking forward to chatting to the trust and talking about how we can best work together," he said.

Title for the island was transferred to Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika under its Treaty of Waitangi Settlement in 2009. The management of the island remains shared between local government, the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the trust as the operational body for Taranaki Whānui.

Sheehan said the current agreement was to investigate some possible ways forward ahead of moving to a full feasibility study.

Trust chairman Neville Baker said the island, which is connected by a 20-minute ferry ride from Downtown Wellington, as well as Petone, Days Bay and Seatoun, is already growing in popularity as a tourism destination and educational resource with more than 15,000 visitors a year.

"We have attracted support from Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Maori (Maori Language Commission), to develop our stories and create a bilingual resource for our community," he said.

"We will also be seeking support through the Government's Maori ICT Fund. Through a project like this we can demonstrate Taranaki Whānui's collective identity and build pride and kotahitanga through our whole community."

The Matiu/Somes Island Charitable Trust, a partnership between the community and Taranaki Whānui, already works closely with DoC and groups like the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society to enhance the flora and fauna of the island and maintain the pest-free status it has held since 1989.

The tourism proposal would be complementary and deliver environmental and conservation messages too, Baker said.

- NZ Herald

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