Tairāwhiti iwi and council cooperate on award-winning project

By Jessica Tyson
Representatives from Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tāmanuhiri, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngati Oneone, Gisborne District Council, Locales Ltd and ECT. Photo source: Gisborne District Council

A project, undertaken by four iwi, Ngāti Oneone, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Ngāi Tamanuhiri, along with the Gisborne District Council has taken out the overall award in the 2019 Local Government New Zealand Excellence Awards.

The project Tupapa – Our Stand, Our Story is a bilingual, multimedia heritage experience which tells the stories of tangata whenua within the local Gisborne area.

It includes a heritage trail which has 10 markers starting from Waikanae Beach and following around the inner harbour to the summit of Titirangi.

Information on each marker is relative to the view from that location and directs users to the project’s digital media platforms; the Tupapa website and Tupapa mobile app.  The website and app also include video recordings of ancestral stories that have been retold by tangata whenua.

Tupapa tells stories on its website and app (Source: Tupapa).

The creators of Tupapa say, “In crafting our scripts, we considered what a storyboard might look like, colour, style, and designs.  We wanted something relevant to us and reflective of our navigational history and art form and more importantly, a ‘look and feel’ respectful of the people, places and stories being told.

"It was also important, because these are iwi stories, that the multimedia experience be bi-lingual. With help from Locales’ design team, our ideas were realised.”

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says Tupapa represents one of the many voices of the community and a significant point in time for the district.

“It’s the product of an iwi group that came together to share their stories and enrich the wider narrative of our community.  Its success lies in its authenticity, the telling of the real stories by the real people of Tairāwhiti.”

The judges of the awards held last night were impressed by the council’s collaborative approach to telling the story of the region’s dual heritage and for demonstrating broad community engagement, including working with the four iwi.