Students break new ground in ancient storytelling

Far North students have been breaking new ground in digital classroom technology - redefining the art of ancient storytelling.

Attending a two-day animation and motion design bootcamp in Kaitaia they’ve been learning new ways to tell historical stories and legends, traditionally passed down as oral history. 

Based on a wide migration history from Te Rarawa legends or narratives called ‘pūrākau’ or ‘pakiwaitara’ the students delivered a five-part animation, beginning with the legend of Māui and his discovery of Te Ika a Māui - the North Island of New Zealand.

"We’re teaching animation from ground zero. They’re learning all their basic animation skills, they’re doing compositing and learning how an animation pipeline works,” Nikora said. 

The project included the arrival of ocean voyagers Kupe and Tūmoana, with moving images and audio illustrating the ancestral art of celestial navigation - voyaging by stars, moon, winds, currents and migratory birds.  

In the intensive wānanga, or workshop, delivered by Young Animators’ Founder Nikora Ngaropo (Te Rarawa, Tuhoe, Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungungu), students collaborated connecting a classroom full of ipads and multiple apps to create their own digital animation from scratch.

“The power of animation is that you can create anything. That changes the conversation around what’s doable. 

Because everything is possible...for their generation that boundless potential is so captivating. They can do anything they can think of,” Nikora said. 

Ngaropo hopes to see more Māori and New Zealanders in general get involved in the industry, with a focus on delivering animation training programs to the regions. 

Te Rarawa Chairman, Haami Piripi spent time with the students helping to translate the story from English to Māori. 

“I think it’s wonderful because what it shows is the ability of the young mind to grasp an ancient story and turn it into a contemporary scenario,” Haami said. 

The idea is to excite our young people to take a story like that, translate it into their own language and their own methodology – in terms of digital technology. And make it something that’s relevant and useful for their lives. I think it will have a lasting impact upon them.”

Haami explained the initiative is part of making an investment in our children, not just in resources but an investment in technology. 

“It’s a digital world now, we need to educate our children in digital technology and provide opportunities for them to access vocational corridors in these careers,” he said. 

The final product, once complete will be used in kōhanga reo as part of a strategy to help future generations learn and re-tell ancient stories, iwi narratives and legends. 

30 Year 7-8 students took part from Kaitaia Intermediate and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro.