Tōia Mai interactive sculpture


Tōia mai is an interactive public art installation that sits on the banks of the Waikato river. The project was a unique opportunity to tell the story of Matariki (the star cluster Pleiades) and symbolises the cultural, spiritual and economic significance of the river.

Aware Group were involved in a collaborative effort with Hamilton City Council, artists from local tertiary and engineering firms to produce the 7m tall sculpture combining modern raw materials and the latest digital technology.

Customer challenges

The project which has been described as “for the people, by the people” took 18 months to develop and was the result of a network of collaborative partnerships.

The co-ordination effort was the biggest challenge to ensure we could find solutions in the rapidly developing field of the Internet of Things, whilst also being embedded in Māori achievement values.

Aware solution

Striking a balancing between culture, history and technology, Tōia Mai is informed by an Internet of Things network aligned to the seven stars of Matariki, a taonga puoro informed soundtrack and interactive lighting which will respond to environmental, seasonal, and lunar changes, as well as people’s movements.  A unique experience is created for them in that moment.

The technology behind the scenes leverages the Azure IoT platform with data being collected in real-time and the waka responding in real-time too.

Microsoft Products/Solutions used: Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Functions, Azure Cosmos DB, Stream Analytics, Power BI.

Customer outcomes

The project was a resounding success, not just from a community and education perspective, but also cultural. Local Iwi were pleased with how the sculpture was sensitive to cultural beliefs, but also allowed people to access and experience culture in new ways.

Microsoft’s Asia Pacific office funded a video case study. Further information can be found on the Microsoft website: https://news.microsoft.com/en-nz/2019/07/29/inspiring-a-community-towards-responsible-innovation/

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