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Exciting technology brings matauranga Maori and physical activity together

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24 October 2017

For Immediate Release

The Journeys of Manu

Exciting technology is helping bring mātauranga Māori and physical activity together as a new augmented reality app for Manukau is launched this week, the first of its kind for the region.

‘The Journeys of Manu’ prototype, made by Conical Interactive studios, will be activated at this weekend’s Puhinui Stream Challenge 2017. The Challenge is a free, all-ages 6km ‘fun walk’ from Hayman Park to Totara Park.

The technology will superimpose the animated Māori youth, ‘Manu’, when participants view their route on their device through the app.

“Manu will teach people about some of the Manukau landmarks along the trail and about the tohu (signs) of Spring according to the Maramataka (Māori lunar calendar),” says Isaac Warbrick of AUT University’s Taupua Waiora centre for Māori health research.

“For example, alongside the awa (stream) you learn about tuna (eels) spawning and further along about maara kūmara (sweet potato gardens). You then collect the virtual taonga (token) for your kete (basket) and at the end of the trail, the taonga reveal a key word, a sort of prize for reaching the end,” he adds.

Families can also take photos with Manu from their phones or tablets and share them online.

The concept for the app was developed by AUT University’s Research and Innovation, Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura and Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative (TSI). All three organisations have a strong interest in South Auckland and a willingness to collaborate broadly. AUT, in particular, is the only university in South Auckland and has a long history of successfully working with industry, business, academics and students on new ideas and fresh approaches to research.

The group have spent the past 6 months exploring ways to make Hayman Park in Manukau a 21st Century park as part of the Transform Manukau project.

“The ultimate goal is to give the community interactive experiences that support health and wellbeing, and bring together culture and technology,” says Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura Kaiwhakahau, Anaru Ah Kew.

“Using augmented reality in this way is an opportunity to use innovation that helps people move more. Similar to how games like Pokemon Go encouraged many to get out and be active, exploring their neighbourhoods, ‘The Journeys of Manu’ reconnects our whakapapa and mātauranga through physical activity.

“The effect of pairing Māori systems with innovation like this is not just systems change, but ‘systems return’. This means taking us back to our traditional ways of being where we rely on our environment as indicators of time, health and wellness.”

Looking at the use of cultural knowledge as an important driver of health and wellbeing is one of the key focus areas for Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura in their work to create healthy changes in their local community. This involves working with Māori, educators, academics and the Council to try traditional approaches to modern issues.

“The Puhinui Stream Challenge is the perfect opportunity to support the Manurewa Local Board, adding a dynamic element to the ‘fun walk’, and test what an augmented reality app for the Manukau region could look like,” says David Rameka of The Southern Initiative. “With the prototype now live, iwi and other groups we work alongside can see how augmented reality technology is applied and we can work together further to develop cultural narratives that encompass the whole region.”

The free ‘Journeys of Manu’ app is available now on Google Play and the App Store - just search ‘Manu Journey’. People are encouraged to download the app before Saturday’s event.

The app requires data for download but once downloaded, can be used offline.

Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) situated next to Hayman Park are also offering FREE Wifi on October 28 for all participants of the Puhinui Stream Challenge 2017 who haven’t pre-downloaded. You can access a login and password at the event to download the app from the ground floor of the MIT building. Search Puhinui Stream Challenge 2017 on Facebook for more info about the event and, to register.

Copyright © 2017, UMA Broadcasting Ltd:

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