Using today’s technology to connect with the past

An app designed to connect people with their natural and cultural heritage has won Viclink’s annual cash-prize award for “the idea with the most commercial potential” at the School of Design’s recent end-of-year exhibition.


Known as ‘The Call of Tane’, the app uses GPS to connect walkers with the Maori heritage of walking tracks in the Wellington region.  Designed by a team of three students from Victoria’s Computer Graphics programme (a joint effort between the School of Design, and the School of Engineering and Computer Science) the app poses an exciting opportunity for both Wellington tourism and potentially the national tourism market in New Zealand.


The team (Shanshan Zhou, Barbara MacKenzie and Michael Blockley) discussed their original concept with Te Ripowai Higgins (VUW’s senior lecturer of Maori studies and Taurima, Te Herenga Waka Marae) and have continued to work closely with local Maori during its development. The first story was taken from Te Ara – The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand – which they then adapted and narrated with help from David Hakaraia, the School of Design’s Senior Awhina co-ordinator.


Abby Buchanan, Viclink’s Student Entrepreneurship Manager, and one of the judges for the award says the quality of work submitted to the exhibition was high, but “The Call of Tane” quite clearly had the most commercial potential: “Not only is there an obvious market for the product, but it won’t cost much to validate and has the ability to be applied to a number of other sectors with relative ease.”


Abby says that Viclink is keen to continue helping the trio to develop their idea into a commercial entity; discussions are currently underway to determine how the company might assist the young entrepreneurs in the future.


Pictured L to R: Margaret Maile Petty (HoS Design), Abby Buchanan (Viclink) and Shanshan Zhou