Nine culture innovators begin residency at Mahuki

Mahuki, Te Papa’s innovation hub has opened its doors to nine entrepreneurial teams for its 2017 programme.

Over the course of the four month residency, the teams will respond with digital solutions, to challenges faced by Te Papa and other cultural service providers across New Zealand and the world.

A pōwhiripōwhiri traditional Māori welcome to welcome the teams and staff was held at Te Papa’s Te Marae on Thu Jul 27.

Te Papa Chief Executive Geraint Martin and Mahuki General Manager Tui Te Hau welcomed the teams to the Te Papa whānauwhānau family.

Geraint said “We are thrilled to welcome these innovative teams to Te Papa and we look forward to what they may produce for the cultural, heritage and learning sectors to enhance the user experience. Te Papa is always looking at ways to enable new kinds of storytelling and connect New Zealanders with their taonga. The success of last year’s inaugural Mahuki residency is testimony to how nurturing innovation can reach new audiences.”

Mahuki's General Manager Tui is excited by the quality of applications the residency has attracted from all over the country.

“The calibre of the Mahuki teams for 2017 is high.  Their solutions span experience and enterprise solutions including collection management, insights and analytics, virtual and augmented reality, social enterprises focused on language preservation, volunteer workforce management, and a student team focused on learning innovation,” she says.

The nine teams are commencing the four month Mahuki programme which is based at Te Papa.

Mahuki entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to work with Te Papa's experts and collections. They will work on real-world culture sector challenges, informed by Te Papa's experience as a global leader. 

“As part of the Mahuki programme, entrepreneurs will get out on the floor, user test their platforms and have access to our 1.8million visitors per year – it’s an exceptional opportunity for both the entrepreneurs and Te Papa” says Tui.

Mahuki aims to build on New Zealand’s strength in creative industries, alongside a rapidly growing technology sector, to boost opportunity for local creative technology businesses.

In 2016, Te Papa engaged seven business concepts developed at Mahuki, for deployment within the museum. One of these concepts has attracted international interest and are looking to grow into the China market. 

All the teams sit together


2017 Mahuki cohort with Tui Te Hau, Mahuki General Manager. Credit Michelle Kan, Te Papa.

The Teams


Collaborate applied to take part in Mahuki 2017 with a mobile app that connects community organisations and not-for-profits with volunteers. Organisations can post specific tasks and connect instantly with skilled volunteers.

Founded in 2015, Collaborate’s vision is to maximise the capacity of NGOs, social enterprise and community organisations, and empower individuals to create positive change.

Director and Founder Holly Norton says Collaborate has huge potential to benefit the cultural sector.

“Volunteers are quintessential to the operation of galleries, libraries and museums world over and Collaborate is a tool that streamlines the process of finding, screening and matching those volunteers; removing some of the most time and resource intensive aspects of this essential process,” she says.

The Wellington based, all female team of four came together to found Collaborate based on their experiences volunteering.


The XPECTR team is entering Te Papa’s innovation hub with an augmented reality experience that can digitally superimpose cultural artefacts such as clothing on to the user’s body on screen.  By applying XPECTR to educational storytelling, there is potential to create visually-captivating interactive experiences for museum visitors.

Project Lead John Celbolingo says the cultural sector is a key way for the next generation to explore creativity, heritage and art.

“We view augmented reality as the bridge between technology and culture”, he says.

Immersive Space Programme

The Immersive Space Programme are developing iSPARX - a 360° augmented and virtual reality media platform.

Launching from Mahuki, the iSPARX platform provides users unique interactive augmented and virtual reality experiences in education, commercial and entertainment applications.

iSPARX Producer Joff Rae says the team is committed to creating engaging experiential content using authentic artefacts and Taonga of Te Papa.

“Our intent has a synergy with the challenges of Mahuki and we anticipate some productive and lucrative results,” he says.

The team’s experience is in augmented reality, 3D asset production, 360° video, beacons & IPS and photogrammetry.

The iSPARX platform can be used to catalogue 3D objects for use in template AR or VR Applications with providence and other detail attached. The 3D & 360° resources can be shared.

I Want To Experience

The I Want To Experience virtual reality application is an interconnected world of immersive storytelling experiences, where users can interact, learn and discover from subject matter experts. 

CEO Brian Goodwin says “With I Want To Experience, experts invite you into their world and share with you, first-hand, the things that they are most passionate about. It is a new encyclopaedia of knowledge in the form of a spoken, visual conversation”.

Mr Goodwin and his team enter Mahuki with experience in film making, artificial intelligence, motion capture, visual effects and virtual reality.

Morph (By ContinUX)

Morph platform creates a seamless data-gathering, analysis and reporting platform for GLAM institutions that doesn’t disrupt the exhibition experience. The digital solution is a combination of hardware and software which tracks visitors and records interactions, delivers analytical data to the institution, captures data for visitors to share on social media and enable visitors to add data before or after their exhibition experience.

Morph addresses one of the challenges set by Mahuki which is to create personal visitor experiences by developing the underlying technology necessary to deliver personalised exhibition outcomes.

Morph CE Chris Lipscombe says “Creating richer experiences is a key factor in successfully engaging with exhibition visitors”.

SimplyFi Ltd

SimplyFi will be developing a system that streamlines the lending and borrowing process for museums. The collection management system enables the lender and borrower to see updates in real time, similar to the way Google Docs enables users to see document edits as they are being made. This system will enable the tracking of items and information through tracing them at checkpoint markers.

SimplyFi CEO Jaemen Busby says “due to our cultural backgrounds as a Pacific Island team, we feel this is a good opportunity to provide greater security for some of our cultural artefacts and those for other cultures worldwide.”

Tide Talk

Tide Talk is an intuitive, customizable language learning tool that will help preserve the languages of Oceania, and endangered languages around the world.

Auckland based Founders Lillian Arp and Konini Rairoa are joining Mahuki with a passion for language and learning.

“Second and third generation immigrants to NZ are losing the languages of their ethnic heritage. If this knowledge and connection to our ancestors can be restored, our experience of the arts will be so much richer” says CEO Lillian Arp.

Vaka Interactiv

Vaka Interactiv is a team of four Pasifika and Māori co-founders led by Chief Executive, Jesse Armstrong.

The Auckland based team are entering Mahuki with interactive portrait technology that will enable visitors to connect to culture.

The team at Vaka Interactiv recognise the cultural sector is aimed at helping people understand and appreciate culture in a way that changes lives for the better. They are excited to embark on this new journey.


The ScimitAR team is focusing their work on the innovation hub on an augmented reality game which enables players to participate in a virtual scavenger hunt. The game requires players to collect “digi-pet” versions of New Zealand native creatures by following clues.  

The team comes to Mahuki with a strong skill base in 3D Graphics, 3D modelling, animation and tech/programming

Eli Tucker says culture is the essence of what the team does.

“We want to encourage and drive engagement with the cultural sector, particularly within the younger generations; creating a link between technology and the creative arts by using a gaming system to refresh and renew interest with culture, history and nature,” he says.

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