As technology constantly evolves one group of Rotorua designers, animators and creatives are keeping up, taking Māori culture into the future

Te Mauri Kingi and the team at 4CompanyB (4CB, named in honour of their grandfathers in the Maori Battalion), work in the fields of animation, virtual reality, augmented reality, projection mapping, gaming and education.

"The idea of 4CB was developed because there was a need and a feel that positive Māori content needed to be put out there.

"We were sick of seeing, say if you Google Maori that the only thing that comes up is a haka or Jake the Muss."

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The aim was to produce content which inspired young Māori, to want to be Māori, but that has now crossed over into the realms of tourism.

Kingi said it would be crazy not to think that technology wasn't in the tourism space.

The team at 4CompanyB are working to produce positive Māori content to inspire young Māori. Photo/Jaden McLeod
The team at 4CompanyB are working to produce positive Māori content to inspire young Māori. Photo/Jaden McLeod

"Tourism is moving, it's amazing how vastly it's moving and everyone that comes to New Zealand has a smartphone now, so it's just bombarding them with Maori content.

"If they're coming over with their smartphones then we should be on those smartphones, that's logical I think."

Projection mapping, like the light shows at Vivid Light Festival in Sydney, is one of the areas they are already looking into for Rotorua.

"We're looking at producing Māori and telling Māori stories through different mediums."

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They are also working on a project to create a link between tourism venues, something visitors can hold in their hands.

"The idea is we use the beacons that are already out there to tell stories through projection mapping, but also augmented reality, virtual reality and geospatial mapping, where the tourists can take the app and then sort of follow it around the trail.

"When we think of Rotorua and Te Wairoa village and also the guides, well there's processes and there's programs and there's algorithms out there that can help digitise Māori guided tours."

And 4CompanyB is not alone in the digital space.

More than 50,000 people have already downloaded Emotiki, Te Puia's Māori emoji app. Photo/Jaden McLeod
More than 50,000 people have already downloaded Emotiki, Te Puia's Māori emoji app. Photo/Jaden McLeod

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.

In May this year it launched the world's first Māori-themed augmented reality (AR) face filter, again through Facebook.

The filter was developed as a digital partnership between Te Puia, New Zealand's centre of Māori culture in Rotorua, and Facebook Creative Shop.

It is available as a feature on Facebook Stories and Messenger when at Te Puia, NZMACI and mobile users simply open their mouths to activate an animated effect of Te Puia's world-famous Pōhutu Geyser erupting.

This can then be shared with friends and family.