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Northland History Map

This interactive, hand-crafted storytelling installation is an example of how we can create a world of place-based storytelling in a single, elegant device.



The Northland History Map is an example of a technique that works very well in cultural storytelling environments. It is a tactile/digital interactive where visitors navigate through a 3D map interface to uncover stories about the many fascinating historic sites in Northland, New Zealand.

The process began by prototyping the idea of sketching a scene into life while the narrator told the story. We started by literally filming the artist using a pencil to sketch a scene, and then speeding it up, but the limitations meant that we reverted to a similar technique, but using software. This also allows us to bring in subtle colour hues to create a beautiful final image.

The stories themselves – from Hongi Hika’s quest for utu to Thomas Kendall’s fall from grace, are short, punchy 2-3 minute scripts written in conjunction with leading New Zealand historians. The illustrations and script are co-developed to ensure that key revelations are timed perfectly.

The digital interactive is housed within a hand-crafted Georgian Cabinet with custom kowhaiwhai patterns carved into it. This elegant case has a brass wheel that operates the map and triggers the series of stories.

The visitor experience is fun and rewarding, with many visitors using the interactive for over 20 minutes to watch each story unfold.

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