A digital novel illustrating the voyage of famed Ngāpuhi ancestor Nukutawhiti to Aotearoa has been launched online, with a special ceremony held at Te Wā in Kaikohe.
Te Taunahatanga o te Puna I te Ao Marama is a digital retelling of the voyage of Nukutawhiti from Hawaiki to Aotearoa and offers taitamariki a new way of engaging with Ngāpuhi specific content. The digital novel was put together by a collective of Ngāpuhi creatives, developers and artists.
"We chose the Nukutawhiti story because we were looking for an overall whare pukapuka and thought this story would be a great place to start. Because it came from rangahau that had been published by Dr Melinda Webber and Kapua O'Connor, both of Ngāpuhi descent, it gave us the confidence to stand in the mana of the story," said Marae Tech Limited producer Tema Kwan.
A first of its kind, the online novel has been created from archival research undertaken by Webber, O'Connor and a full team of Ngāpuhi-connected talent and features illustrations by local students, tāonga pūoro soundscapes and interactive avatars.
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Work on the interactive novel was done in collaboration with Te Rūnanga A iwi o Ngāpuhi, with financial support from the Ministry of Education's Toikuranui Investment Fund, and it has been created in a comic style, with the aim of reaching readerships in both te reo Māori and English.
"We want to ensure we have Ngāpuhi-specific resources for our rangatahi in schools, it's not just a story about Nukutawhiti but the whole team that created it comes from Ngāpuhi and we want our children to grow up in an education system that has content specifically for them," said Kwan.
A team of 16 worked on the project, engaging rangatahi from Kaikohe Intermediate to co-design the art and flavour of the book, Nikora Ngaropo from Motion and Design creating graphics and Quinton Hita translating te reo.
"This is the first time this kind of technology has been created and there's no other pūrākau that has been told in this manner that has an avatar that makes its way across three scenes and tells a story of navigation," says Kwan.
The launch of the digital novel was attended by Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis and Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime, as well as representatives from Te Rūnanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi and The Ministry of Education. The free resource is available to view on nukutawhiti.co.nz.