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Gold award for Tūpuna Maunga Authority visitor centre

Published: 30 March 2021

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority’s ‘Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau / Maungawhau Visitor Experience Centre’ has won a coveted gold award at the prestigious IDA International Design Awards.

The awards recognise, celebrate and promote exceptional design visionaries and works to discover emerging talent in architecture, interior, product, graphic, and fashion design worldwide.

The gold award was achieved in the Print / Signs, Exhibits and POP Displays category, against impressive competition from around the globe.

The visitor centre was also a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Best Awards.

Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau sits inside the heritage Kiosk building half-way up Maungawhau / Mt Eden Maunga and it opened to the public in December 2019.

A point of difference

Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, says the visitor centre is an important addition to the Maunga for Mana Whenua, and to the museum and visitor centre sector in the region.

“The vision for Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau was that it went beyond the usual ‘volcanic cone narrative’ to give a glimpse into the history of the Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Maunga as seen in a Māori cultural, spiritual and world view, and to celebrate the living connection that Mana Whenua have with the Maunga."

"The feedback we’ve received since we opened has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The Tāmaki Makaurau Maunga are on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status due to their international significance as important cultural sites, so we are happy to see further international recognition through this award for the story we are sharing at Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau.”

Interactive experience

Much planning went into designing the relatively small space to include a large amount of content with a high visual impact.

At the connection from the main room through to the visitor centre is a massive 12-foot-tall contemporary interpretation of a waharoa and palisade – a formal entrance way to important sites such as pā (fortified settlements).

Inside, a series of large-scale information panels are positioned strategically around the room to guide people through a story, from the geological and Māori narratives of how Tāmaki Makaurau was formed, to the cultural and spiritual significance of the Maunga and the history of the Maungawhau pā (fortified settlement), through to the modern-day care and protection of the Maunga following the landmark Tāmaki Collective Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

The settlement saw ownership of 14 Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) returned to 13 iwi of Tāmaki Makaurau in 2014.

A key feature is the movie theatre playing a short film about early Māori settlement in Tāmaki Makaurau and the establishment of pā across the Maunga network.

The narration is set against a backdrop of spectacular aerial flights over the Maunga, which allow viewers to see remnants of the pā settlements that are difficult to notice at ground level.

A highlight of the centre is the interactive augmented reality experience which uses tablets over a 3D scale model of Maungawhau.

It takes the user back in time to experience the volcanic eruption of Maungawhau 28,000 years ago, the fully inhabited Maungawhau pā which was first established around 1200AD, through to modern day.

The tethered tablets allow the user to move around the model and zoom in to witness lava flows during the eruption and then life on the pā showing whare (houses), rua (pits for food storage) and mara kai (food gardens) which once sat on the terraced slopes of Maungawhau.

Authority and agency staff worked with Mana Whenua representatives, geologists and archaeologists to ensure the augmented reality was true to historical narratives and documented history of Maungawhau.

Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau is open on weekends and admission is free.

Visit maunga.nz for more information about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.

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