Thirty Year 7-8 students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro and Kaitaia Intermediate School have been breaking new ground in digital classroom technology, redefining the art of ancient story-telling.
The students attended an intensive two-day animation and motion design wānanga in Kaitaia, where they learned new ways to tell historical stories and legends, traditionally passed down as oral history, delivered by Young Animators' founder Nikora Ngaropo (Te Rarawa, Tuhoe, Ngāti Porou, Ngati Kahungungu), connecting a classroom full of ipads and multiple apps to create their own digital animation from scratch.
"We're teaching animation from ground zero. They're learning all their basic animation skills, they're doing compositing, and learning how an animation pipeline works," Mr Ngaropo said.
Based on a wide migration history from Te Rarawa legends, or narratives, called pūrākau, or pakiwaitara, the students delivered a five-part animation, beginning with the legend of Māui and his discovery of Te Ika a Māui. The project included the arrival of ocean voyagers Kupe and Tūmoana, with moving images and audio illustrating the ancestral art of navigation and voyaging by stars, moon, winds, currents and migratory birds.
"The power of animation is that you can create anything. That changes the conversation around what's doable," Mr Ngaropo said.
"Because everything is possible — for their generation, that boundless potential is so captivating. They can do anything they can think of."
He hoped to see more Māori and New Zealanders in general get involved in the industry, with a focus on delivering animation training programmes to the regions.
Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi spent time with the students, helping to translate the story from English to Māori.
"I think it's wonderful, because what it shows is the ability of the young mind to grasp an ancient story and turn it into a contemporary scenario," he said.
"The idea is to excite our young people to take a story like that, translate it into their own language and their own methodology, in terms of digital technology, and make it something that's relevant and useful for their lives. I think it will have a lasting impact upon them."
Mr Piripi said the initiative was part of making an investment in children, not just in resources, but an investment in technology.
"It's a digital world now. We need to educate our children in digital technology and provide opportunities for them to access vocational corridors in these careers," he said.
The final product will be used in kōhanga reo as part of a strategy to help future generations learn and re-tell ancient stories, iwi narratives and legends.