News | 1 October 2021
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Ngā Tohunga Whakatere - The Navigators

Space Place is proud to launch Ngā Tohunga Whakatere - The Navigators, a fully immersive planetarium show, which tells the story of early navigation to Aotearoa through the eyes of budding navigator, Moko.

Promotional advert for The Navigators

Young Moko, finds herself travelling through time and space in this stunning digital animation on Space Place's full-dome screen which explores the value of indigenous knowledge and early cultural practices in Pasifika, Māori and European navigation. 

The viewer follows Moko, expertly performed by Reina Stephens of Te Rarawa as she gains knowledge and understanding of voyaging traditions and realises how skilled her ancestors had to be, to traverse the largest ocean on Earth.

Anton Carter, Executive Producer and Public Programmes Manager at Experience Wellington says Ngā Tohunga Whakatere: The Navigators tells a story of the arrival of two cultures to this one land. "This is a story that uses our history to examine our future. A story that uses historical reference points provided by two cultures to navigate towards a shared horizon."

The launch of the Ngā Tohunga Whakatere: The Navigators on October 2 is the culmination of many years’ work for Haritina Mogoșanu, Creative Producer and Public Programmes Manager at Space Place, who developed the concept. " The knowledge we have from studying the stars has made extraordinary achievements, possible - not just scientific ones but also personal. Our message to our tamariki is; learn your science and be our explorers for the future."

The production has been carefully crafted with tikanga, cultural and navigational expertise including Pacific Master Navigator Jack Thatcher (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngāti Awa) and Specialist Naval Navigator Commander David Hedgley, along with Pou Tikanga Joe Harawira (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tuhourangi) and Tahitian advisor Ena Manuireva.

Directed by Lala Rolls, Ngā Tohunga Whakatere: The Navigators has also drawn heavily on the creative talents of Wellington including a team of animators under the creative direction of John Strang, production expertise and production facilities at Park Road Post and the Miramar Creative Centre with its motion capture studio.

“It’s a real celebration of Pasifika navigation, that also shares how European navigators like Abel Tasman and Captain Cook came to Aotearoa and the science they employed to sail here,” says Lala.

“It’s very much embedded in tikanga Māori, and engages cultural investigation, from research, to scripting, music, animation and motion capture."

The soundtrack was recorded in a collaborative live musical session, conducted by Riki Gooch, with voice acting and sound mix at Park Road Post in Wellington. A powerful karakia welcomes viewers at the beginning with Pacific sounds, including drumming woven through the musical score.

Ngā Tohunga Whakatere - The Navigators will screen at Space Place from Saturday, October 2 including daily during the school holidays. The project was supported by Lottery Tuia – Encounters 250 as well as The Lion Foundation.

Suitable for ages 8+. Under Covid Level 2 booking is advised with seating restrictions in place. Go to for tickets.