The Matariki Interactive Waka will be a six-metre tall steel sculpture sitting beside the Waikato River in Hamilton.
Intended to draw the people of the city back to the river, the waka design combines traditional Māori knowledge with modern science and technology. It will reflect the Māori concepts of interconnectedness and tell the story of Matariki, the Māori New Year.
Motion sensors, LED strip lighting and surround sound on the artwork will be triggered by passing people, animals and changing environmental conditions. The waka will use only sustainable energy sources.
Data collected through the sculpture’s environmental sensor network will be made publicly available through a website.
The public art project is a collaborative multidisciplinary partnership between Wintec’s Māori Achievement Unit and students studying trades, engineering, early childhood education and media arts.
Wintec students will build the sculpture, working under the mentorship of a local engineering firm.
The huge team behind the project also includes Wintec staff members and independent researchers. Wintec tutor and Hamilton artist Joe Citizen designed the waka as part of his PhD studies at AUT.
The project team is now crowdsourcing funding to pay for the steel to build the waka, which is expected to be unveiled during Matariki celebrations in 2018.