Jaws dropped during Techweek as the world's first Māori-themed augmented reality (AR) face filter went live.

The filter was developed as a digital partnership between Te Puia, New Zealand's centre of Māori culture in Rotorua, and Facebook Creative Shop. Mobile users simply open their mouths to activate an animated effect of Te Puia's world-famous Pōhutu Geyser erupting.

Te Puia sales and marketing general manager Kiri Atkinson-Crean said the filter offered visitors an exclusive way to share their experience and Māori culture with family and friends through the power of social media.

"We've been working with Facebook for some time on a number of projects and the new AR face filter is another innovative way we can share Māori cultural experiences with the rest of the world."


The filter is available as a feature on Facebook Stories and Messenger when at Te Puia, NZMACI.

Once selected, an animation of Pōhutu Geyser appears in the background.

Opening your mouth activates the geyser, which erupts, before a kiwi takes a walk across the screen. This can then be shared with friends and family.

"We wanted to give people, particularly young people, another way to express themselves and our unique Māori culture," Atkinson-Crean said.

"The filter is a fun and interactive way to share our local Māori treasures and unique Kiwiana landscapes with other cultures and everyday New Zealanders."

Facebook creative strategist Andy Blood said the opportunity to partner with Te Puia was welcomed by Facebook and the AR project had been a great example of what can be achieved together.

"Both Facebook and Te Puia can benefit from providing the growing digital market with tools to showcase their expertise and experiences.

"Using the Facebook platform to showcase culture and tourism is strategic for both parties."


The Te Puia AR filter was built by Nic Neame at The Little Red Brick using Facebook's AR face tracking technology and developed using AR Studio.

In December 2016, Te Puia launched Emotiki, the world's first Māori emoji app, which has now been downloaded 50,000 times.

The Emotiki app was created using the latest in messaging technology; Te Puia was one of the first in New Zealand to use sticker packs.

Atkinson-Crean said Emotiki enabled New Zealanders and other cultures to share the meaning of Māori words and their experiences with Māori culture.

"The new AR filter allows us to take this another step further."

Now, as a result of being accepted into GIPHY's partner library, Emotiki is available for use within Instagram Stories and Snapchat.