Entrepreneurialism and culture collide at Te Papa’s Mahuki showcase

At Te Papa’s Glamactic Mahuki Showcase yesterday, ten teams of innovators from Auckland to Invercargill, unveiled digital solutions to challenges faced by Te Papa and other cultural institutions across New Zealand and the world.

Innovations include:

  • A storytelling experience that creates connections between artefacts and artworks in New Zealand’s national collections (Mimicry Tech)

  • EventBestie, a multi-platform app that keeps track of programming and deadlines in real time, prior to and during an event (Showmode)

  • A mixed reality experience that allows users to feel like they are touching collection items and art, through haptic generators (JIX Limited)

  • An app which brings heritage landmarks to life by using augmented reality to virtually recreate historic objects and stories on location (Hiamo)

  • An interactive maps app for exploring science (Litmaps)

The teams have taken part in a four month residential programme which began in August. Forty participants 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.

Te Papa Chief Executive Geraint Martin said “Mahuki is the world’s first culture-tech accelerator and has a strong reputation for developing leading digital businesses for the culture and heritage sector.”

“At Te Papa, we want to meet the challenges of the future. This includes how we tell stories and connect New Zealanders with their taonga. Innovative use of technology is one of the ways in which we can do that.”

Dale Bailey Director Collections, Research & Learning says the teams of entrepreneurs, who have come from across New Zealand, have developed strong businesses and ideas while on the Mahuki programme.

“At Mahuki we’ve been working with innovators at the cutting edge of technology. Their incredible innovations offer Te Papa and organisations around the world a range of next generation user experiences to consider.” he said.

Amongst the Mahuki alumni who have achieved recent successes are I Want To Experience, who provided virtual reality experiences for visitors to Te Papa’s new art gallery Toi Art, which opened in March this year. Through their technology, visitors were able to visit artist Lisa Walker’s studio and learn directly from Lisa about her creative process, they've also released Experience Music Up Close for Chamber Music NZ, which immerses you into the work of one of the leading viol consorts - Phantasm.

Breadcrumb are currently trialling their ultra-wideband (UWB) radio technology at a New World supermarket in Wellington. Ten trolleys have been fitted with the UWB device which tracks movement within 10-30cm accuracy, and will be used to provide insights on how each trolley moves, and how long it spends at various stops.

Vaka Interactive have successfully deployed their technology at Chiaroni Gallery in Invercargill, and at the National Maritime Museum in Auckland.

The 2018 Mahuki teams, 2018. Te Papa

Mahuki teams

Mimicry Tech

Mimicry Tech is Mahuki’s first Invercargill team. After the Southland Museum was shut due to earthquake damage, co-founders Louise Evans, Rachel Butler and Doug Thwaites identified the importance of finding creative solutions to share their region’s stories.

Mimicry Tech has created a storytelling experience that creates connections between artefacts and artworks in New Zealand’s national collections, and the stories of individuals. When users share their story their voice is converted to text, effectively crowdsourcing the cataloguing and digitising of heritage stories. By leveraging the application programming interfaces and digital collections of museums around the country, including Te Papa and DigitalNZ, those stories are then given context and depth.

Invercargill Licensing Trust sponsors the development of the Mimicry Tech product.


Wellington team Showmode has developed a multi-platform app that takes the stress out of running events.

Showmode CEO, Aaron Blackledge, has operated as theatre technician and producer for the last ten years. In his own experience, Blackledge noticed that in the days leading up to an event, many elements can be out of the organisers control.

The Showmode team have created and further developed ‘EventBestie,’ a multi-platform app that keeps track of programming and deadlines in real time, prior to and during an event, pre-set by the specific event management team.

Town Square

Town Square is a platform that encourages people to discover great events, connect with friends and family offline, and enjoy what is happening around New Zealand.

The Town Square marketing tool combines tech and creativity to maximise the attendance of events. The platform is built to make it quick and easy for people to find events they want to attend.

On the Town Square app, users can discover events, reserve tickets, organise attendance with friends, arrange restaurant bookings, and get there on time, all with a few clicks.


Upto is an online platform to encourage rangatahi (youth) to become more engaged in their community.

Upto CEO Angela Dellow, is passionate about inspiring rangatahi to engage in more events and activities in their communities.

The Upto platform aims to provide more engaging options of rangatahi to spend their time. Using social media influencers, event organisers and tourism sites can engage youth to create videos about the sites to encourage other youth to participate and engage.


Fishhook creates hands-on real-life experiences that get adults excited about science and how the world works.

The team recognises that science underpins every facet of our lives; the decisions made every day and what kind of impact we have on the planet. The Fishhook experience aims to make a fundamental understanding of science more accessible to audiences.

Fishhook is a hands-on immersive experience for different events including public programmes, corporate events and large-scale festivals.

The experiences are built in partnership with the New Zealand science community and the culture and heritage sector, and aim to extend the reach of their science kaupapa and build a wider community of lifelong science enthusiasts. Fishhook aims to get everyone hooked on science.

JIX Limited

JIX Limited is creating a mixed reality experience that allows visitors to feel like they are touching collection objects and art. This is possible through their haptic driven museum experience which utilises augmented reality, hand gesture & location detectors, and haptic generators.


Hiamo brings heritage landmarks to life by using augmented reality to virtually recreate historic objects and stories on location.

The app goes beyond restoration and encourages explorative learning for all ages. It offers the opportunity to interact and engage with the past in a new way, providing a platform to reconnect people with history.

This innovative technology offers an alternative to physical reproductions and models. The technology is cost effective to build and maintain and is easy to update and extend.

Currently, Hiamo is working to recreate the gun emplacements at coastal fortifications around Wellington City to increase awareness and engagement with those sites.

Merge Creative Agency

Merge Creative Agency is a group of students from Dunedin who are creating an immersive Augmented Reality game app.

The agency’s target market is centennials and millennials; with a focus on young people who are looking for experiences, and who value peer social engagement over individual reflection.

Merge Creative Agency has developed a live game narrative in a museum context. The game will bring visitors into a museum, and ask them to complete puzzle tasks as they go through exhibitions. The app will help to create a learning environment for increased engagement from this youth audience in a museum.

Take Me Back

Take Me Back provides a platform for users to link together characters, events and places depicted in historic imagery, and capture and share the stories and history of a community.

The Take me back platform brings historic photos to life, with the aim of broadening appeal to wider audiences.

Using common linked data protocols, stories in different collections can be linked and combined in ways not previously possible.


Litmaps has created interactive maps for exploring science.

The team’s platform empowers people to interact directly with scientific literature through a visual interactive interface that connects directly to research data with no third parties.

Litmaps assembles article summaries produced by academic experts and acts as a translator of abstracts which often include technical jargon.

The interface is delivered in the form of interactive maps on research into controversial and socially relevant topics such as climate change, vaccination, genetic engineering, the connection between cancer and smoking, and nuclear technology.

About Mahuki

In 2016, Te Papa invested around $1 million to establish Mahuki.

Callaghan Innovation have continued their support of Mahuki through funding. Mahuki is also supported by Deloitte and Morrison Kent.

Te Papa has an option to exercise equity of 6% in the teams. The equity stake will ensure that Te Papa benefits from successful innovations, whether or not they end up being used on the museum’s floors. It will also contribute to the sustainability of Mahuki.

Successful innovations may be taken up by Te Papa and the New Zealand cultural sector, and exported globally.

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

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The 2018 Mahuki teams, 2018. Te Papa

Media contact

Ellie Campbell, Senior Communications Adviser, Te Papa, 029 601 0120, ellie.campbell@tepapa.govt.nz