AwhiFlora Augmented Reality Workshops

Augmented reality and emerging technology is not something you associate with grass-roots Pacific Island culture and tradition. However, AwhiFlora opened a portal between those worlds.

For this project, we worked extensively with Tracey Aramoana, a long time AwhiWorld collaborator with a strong background in digital literacy programmes. In addition, we were introduced to the beautiful (now deceased) Piri Maraerai, a respected Mangaian (Cook Islands) elder via Tracey. Both Tracey and Piri saw the opportunity to work with us to support digital literacy in their communities (Maori, Pacific Island peoples) in South Auckland, New Zealand.

After some solid consultation with these cultural experts, we adapted an existing augmented reality app to trigger Pacific Island flowers (e.g. Hibiscus) to appear accompanied by fun sounds. The augmented reality triggers/markers were designed to look like seeds by Kim Newall. When triggered by the app on an Android device, flowers grew out of the markers and said hello.

Under Mama Piri’s guidance, we mounted the markers onto wood and drilled holes to thread them with string. Mama Piri then took us on a shopping spree to purchase beads and string.

In a series of workshops run by ourselves with Mama Piri and later with Tracey, the seed-markers were transformed into bracelets and necklaces. At the same time, they taught digital concepts related to mobile phone use. The phone and the AR app displaying the magical flowers opened a portal to learning about online safety and some of the primary uses of mobile devices.

We initially prototyped the workshops as part of a Park Jam community event run by Accelerating Aotearoa, another AwhiWorld partner. But then Tracey and Mama Piri ran the workshops in their overlapping communities to support ongoing digital literacy education.

It was a win all around.

For more augmented reality capacity building posts check out our posts page.

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