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Māori storytelling app sparks the imagination

Māori tech start-up company Arataki Cultural Trails has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Spark New Zealand to grow their digital storytelling app.

Founded in 2016, Arataki offers a self-guided fully immersive cultural walking experience using the specially designed app.

Their proximity storytelling technology connects users with cultural content and information, at the right time, in the right location.

The Tauranga-based company shared the news on their Facebook page recently saying the agreement will advance the opportunities for Māori in technology by supporting the growth and creation of Māori-owned businesses.

Arataki founder and CEO Lee Timutimu says it's exciting news.

"For us it's a big deal because just in terms of pure scale, Spark is huge, Spark is massive.  They've got 5,000 staff nationwide and the number of hubs and shops and what-not, whereas ourselves, Arataki, we're small company.

"In terms of Spark, they brought in to our vision, they brought in to our brand and that's something that is pretty awesome because it really does validate a lot of the mahi we're doing within New Zealand in terms of creating and educating people within communities about our cultural narrative around new Zealand."

Arataki consists of Timutimu, Denym Harawira and Clayton Low.  Their strong background and experience in Māori storytelling has allowed them to bring together technology and Māori stories.

Timutimu, who has been a part of Māori storytelling for ten years now, says although the app only provides historical content for wāhi within the Waiariki area, they're hoping to delve into kōrero from other iwi next year.

"We've been working really hard on that for the last six to twelve months so we're kind of aiming for the new year, around about March 2019, where we will have a lot more stories on board which will enable you to use our cultural storytelling app to unlock stories in a lot more locations around New Zealand."

Timutimu says a big part of the company's business model is creating and developing relationships with mana whenua.

"The majority of my mahi over the past 18 months has been connecting with iwi, developing and nurturing relationships with iwi, and these are deep trust relationships because, essentially, we need to partner with iwi who are the owners of these cultural stories, of these authentic stories.

"We need to ask them for access to those stories, which are taonga in their own right, so we've been very careful about how we approach those relationships concernedly.  That's going to allow us access some of these treasured stories."

Arataki Cultural Trails - promo video June 2018 from Lee Timutimu on Vimeo.

Timutimu says they look forward to working collaboratively with Spark and are excited to see their concept grow.

"It's very special to us to be provided or offered the opportunity to partner with someone like Spark and it's something we are really going to support moving forward."

Arataki's ultimate goal is to create and share 1,000 stories by the year 2020.

For more information on Arataki Cultural Trails, you can visit their Facebook page.