Te Papa’s Mahuki teams showcase the future of innovation in the culture sector

6 December 2016

At Te Papa’s Mahuki showcase last night, nine teams of innovators unveiled business propositions that deliver digital solutions to challenges faced by Te Papa and other cultural service providers across New Zealand and the world.

Mahuki is Te Papa’s innovation hub.

The teams have taken part in a four month residential programme which began in August.  Thirty six particpants researched, developed and user- tested the next generation of experiences for the culture, heritage and learning sectors, while based at Te Papa.

The Mahuki innovators worked with Te Papa's experts and collections, and market-tested their ideas with Te Papa's millions of visitors. They worked on real-world problems, informed by Te Papa's experience as a global leader in cultural experiences.

"At Te Papa we are passionate about activating new kinds of storytelling, and enabling New Zealanders to access their national collections in new ways. The incredible businesses and ideas developed at Mahuki give us more options to continue delivering a world class visitor experience,” said Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis.

Mahuki General Manager Tui Te Hau said the businesses that have been developed in Mahuki are world class.

“Over the last four months we’ve been working with innovators at the cutting edge of technology; interactive holograms, out of home virtual reality experiences and indoor location based services to name a few,” said Ms Te Hau. 

Mr Ellis said successful innovations from the Mahuki programme may be taken up by Te Papa and the New Zealand cultural sector, and exported globally.

“I firmly believe that businesses and ideas developed at Mahuki can transform the way New Zealanders understand our country, and each other. The entrepreneur’s business have the potential to reach beyond our shores to share stories with the world,” said Mr Ellis. 

Mr Ellis said the innovation hub model enables Te Papa to tap in to the creativity of New Zealand companies.

"In the next four years our renewal programme will see us make the most dramatic changes to the museum since opening,” he said.

"Te Papa has always been a creative powerhouse, and working with these exciting businesses will bring new ideas into the mix."

At the Mahuki showcase on Monday night, Mr Ellis acknowledged the team or entrepreneurs for their dedication to the programme and to Te Papa.

“Tonight we celebrate the inspiration, the hard work of the Mahuki teams and the incredible ideas that have been developed into outstanding business propositions,” he said.



Notes to Editor

Business unveilings at Mahuki

Breadcrumb Data, founded by six international students, is a hardware and software solution that improves the navigational and exhibition experiences for visitors within museums and galleries, through indoor positioning and data collection.

Combining hardware that smartly communicates with its surrounding space, and software that tracks and calculates its coordinates; members of the cultural sector can monitor user’s activity and provide improved user experiences through the data collected.

Wellington company Point Zero’s Holospace is an interactive holographic display for the museum space that simply conveys complex ideas in science and technology.

Holospace is the only display technology that combines 3D holograms with interactive content to educate and inspire audiences; providing a new way for museums to share their stories in an immersive and visually exciting way.

Collaborative team Curio consists of three leading Wellington businesses – Click Suite, Touchtech and Story Inc. The Curio platform allows museum storytellers to make their own object-centric, digital interactives. The platform captures stories on collection items and allows visitors to experience those stories through their own exploration.

The product allows museums to simply create digital interactives at a fraction of the price of a bespoke product, with no technical skills required. They can also update them easily; keeping the visitor experience engaging and relevant.

Koha Technologies is dedicated to telling lost stories through virtual and augmented reality and uses unique cultural connections to uncover ancestry and heritage that is stored, treasured, and portrayed with authenticity via mobile apps, web portals, and social platforms.

Koha Technologies empowers indigenous cultures through digital infrastructures and mobile communications, allowing whanau and the wider community to learn about Iwi taonga.

Gamelab entered Mahuki with over 15 years’ experience in the gaming industry. The company creates scaffolded learning activities and resources that educate young people in a fun and engaging way; enabling them to make their own games.

Gamelab’s Gamefroot platform makes learning playful and effective for museum visitors by empowering them via user friendly software and culturally enriched resources.

Social enterprise team Craftmapper’s online craft inventory platform guides communities through a simple systematic process that records their skills, designs, materials and practitioners. It highlights unique designs, endangered skills and materials, and potentially marketable products.

Craftmapper offers market readiness training and distributes authentic hand crafted products to museum shops and galleries around the world.

Operating in interactive entertainment since 1999, Dot Dot is delivering virtual reality into museums with The Empathy Machine, an experience which lets visitors walk around and touch the virtual scene, providing valuable context to Te Papa’s treasured artefacts.

The Empathy Machine includes everything a museum needs to embed mixed-reality content alongside existing exhibitions including custom installation, durable hardware, equipment maintenance and content updates.

Open Window’s Palace is a platform for artists and gallery owners to promote, preserve and pre-visualise art and exhibitions. The team works with artists, galleries and museums to upload their digital content to curate and publish exhibitions using 360 capture and virtual walkthroughs.

Using Palace, creators can access it through a web portal where they either use gallery templates to display their art, or work with Open Window to capture their existing space. Once published, artists and gallery owners can promote their exhibitions to their audiences through web or VR technology.

Excio displays beautiful and interactive images on the home screens of mobile devices.

Excio enables users to explore the amazing and intriguing world around them. To achieve this the team has worked with international organisations to bring their artworks, photographs and collections to life. The product has the potential to exhibit content on thousands of mobile devices.


Mahuki is Te Papa's innovation incubator, helping to develop ideas into world-leading digital experiences for the cultural sector.

Mahuki is part of Te Papa's digital vision — reaching beyond museum walls to connect people with the museum’s rich collections and experiences.

The 2016 Mahuki programme ran for four months from 15 August 2016 and was based on-site at Te Papa in Wellington.

Te Papa took a 6% equity stake in the companies that took part in the Mahuki programme. Residents received $20,000 per business while they work in the hub.

Innovations developed in Mahuki will be available for Te Papa to purchase, if they meet the museum’s needs. The equity stake will ensure that Te Papa benefits from successful innovations, whether or not they end up being used in the museum floor. It will also contribute to the sustainability of Mahuki. 

Half of Te Papa’s funding comes from the government, and half from commercial revenue.

Te Papa invested around $1 million to establish Mahuki, including housing the facility within Te Papa’s office space, supporting the 36 entrepreneurs while they work, and helping them access international networks when their innovations were market-ready.

Mahuki can be translated as "perceptive" and relates to ideas that spring to the mind, and to the wellspring of inspiration.

Mahuki is an annual programme, with a fresh wave of innovators completing the four month programme each year. Applications for next year open in March 2017 and close in June 2017. Successful applicants begin the programme in August.

Te Papa thanks Vodafone as key strategic partner, supporting partner Wellington City Council, accounting partner Deloitte, and legal partner Morrison Kent.

Read more about Mahuki here

Group image


Mahuki teams. Photographer Mike O'Neill © Te Papa