Picturesque Bay of Islands town Paihia will celebrate its 200th anniversary - virtually.
This year marks 200 years since the Church Missionary Society put down roots in Paihia.
As part of the Paihia200 bicentennial celebrations, local iwi (Ngāti Rahiri and Ngāti Kawa) and the Paihia Historical Legacy Society (PHLS) have collaborated with Auckland-based creative technology studio Method to create an innovative mobile app called Ātea Nuku Timewalk Paihia.
Ātea Nuku is an experiential walking tour that brings the history and legacy of Paihia to life through location-based AR, audio, animation, 360 video and text. It opens a window to the past, a legacy trail that shares the unique stories of early cultural encounters in Paihia and the relationships fostered between the missionaries, their families and mana whenua.
Paihia holds an important place in Aotearoa history, as the place where Māori and British missionaries and settlers held significant conversations about how they could co-exist and thrive together in the future.
Waitangi Marae chairman and Uri O Te Kemara (a descendant of Te Kemara) Ngati Kawa Taituha said the legacy trail celebrates the bond between two cultures, which had been crucial to the signing of the 1835 Declaration of Independence and the ensuing Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“The bicentennial will be commemorated in a way that enhances the mana of everyone involved,” Taituha says. “What we can do is learn from the past to make a better future for Aotearoa, as intended through the visionary foresight of both Māori and the missionaries when Te Tiriti was drafted and signed.”
PHLS chairman Martin Williams, says “This app is a significant milestone in preserving and sharing the early history of Paihia. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in this project.”
Users can access the stories by scanning QR codes through the app at 12 significant locations within easy walking distance of each other, including Te Tii Marae, the original Mission Village location, and Manukaihuia Hill, with views from the Paihia foreshore to historic Kororāreka.
It’s been an exciting and challenging project for Method, involving extensive curation of the written and oral histories of the area and regular location visits to work through the technical aspects.
No strangers to creating awe-inspiring experiences using technology in ground-breaking ways, Method launched the first augmented reality tour in Aotearoa for Ngati Whatua Orakei – an app that pushed the boundaries for Māori tourism, showcasing Bastion Point (Takaparawhau) in Auckland and the historical significance of the site.
Method’s managing and creative director Sam Ramlu is excited to share another such experience with Kiwis.
“Creating Ātea Nuku has been a remarkable journey,” she says.
“The stories of Paihia are important stories for all of Aotearoa, and we’ve loved being able to turn them into a beautiful, engaging and educational digital experience.”
Featuring AR reconstructions, 360° video and more, all accessed via QR technology, Ātea Nuku shows the amazing ways in which historical locations can be brought to life to educate and inspire modern-day visitors.