Iwi teams up with tech giants to bring ancestors to life

An Auckland iwi has teamed up with Microsoft and Datacom to bring the stories of its ancestors to life using a holographic lens.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei iwi innovation officer Te Aroha Morehu is working with mega tech companies to bring his people's stories to life.

One story involves the creation of a three-dimensional hologram, viewed through the Microsoft Hololens.

"Through prayer Owaaku or the Kahupookere, the Haast's eagle, arrived at the ancestors' whim to direct the vessel into New Zealand," Mr Morehu says.

Users can learn the bird's name, history and make it do tricks using the Hololens.

Mr Morehu says the technology is about ensuring the stories of his ancestors are passed on.

Elders from his iwi have tried out the Hololens.

"We've seen them cry in some instances of seeing some of these fabrications."

It's also encouraging Māori to into the field of technology.

Mr Morehu says it's important to "reconnect them with their own content but also show them that there's a meaningful path for digitisation in Te Ao Māori".

As well bringing to life Owaaku, the technology is also being developed for the classroom and could soon be used by medical students.

Datacom Business Manager Husain Al-Badry says, "You can have three-dimensional live patients sitting there in the chair in front of you and you're able to walk around and diagnose the medical condition."

It can also make other jobs easier, like checking the safety of a building.

Other ancestors of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are being developed, and there's talk the creatures could feature in global video games.