Te Papa Tongarewa
The Mauri Activator is one of seven unique digital development pieces we created for Te Papa’s new Te Taiao ❘ Nature exhibition. The Mauri Activator is a visually stunning, two-story high keystone interactive installation, that brought together multiple creative skills to develop, design and build something that would embody the sense of mauri.
In a Māori worldview, mauri is the life force that exists in all things in nature, and promotes abundance. The Mauri Activator was a collaboration where we worked closely with the team at Te Papa who provided the concept, spatial design and art work. Our brief was to execute the digital development, making this intangible idea of ‘mauri’ real and immediate for museum visitors, and encouraging people to work together to nurture the environment.
The activator communicates the idea of mauri not through words, but through action. When visitors place a hand on the carved wooden plinth, they trigger a sensor that causes an immediate onscreen effect – more life energy is manifested through thriving birds, plants, and animals. Embedded LED lights on the plinth, along with immediate audio feedback, signal clearly that the activator is responsive to touch. Trees, birds, fish, insects, plants and even fireflies all become more abundant as the scene reaches a ‘peak’ state. Each additional hand placed and held on the activator generates more mauri, until where there was once an empty ocean or forest, huge whales or lively groups of kākāpō appear.