Bringing our heritage alive

Bringing our heritage alive

Sarah Arnold, programme support coordinator at NMIT Te Pūkenga in collaboration with international researchers and NMIT tutors and ākonga, has created a way for Nelson history to come alive at our fingertips.
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From left: Stefan Hanspach - graphic and design lead, Sarah Arnold - project lead and Ali Kahwaji - CTO for the Post Memory project. They also all work at NMIT Te Pūkenga.

“These stories need to come out of the archives,” Sarah says. “Noone remembers these people but without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

The project all started when Sarah created artwork for an exhibition at NMIT.

“I reproduced an 1860s survey map and whilst researching it, I discovered how many of my fathers’ family lived and farmed where I live now.”

Sarah came across several quirky stories that she wanted to bring to life for people young and old.

“We are using Augmented Reality (AR) technology in a way that brings the past to life,” she says. “People will be able to see historical events pop up in 3D from their digital devices through a downloadable app.”

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Constable Knapp

Posts made from recycled plastic will be placed at historical sites around the Nelson region and users will be able to open the app and link it to the post.

“The posts are where the event took place. You will be standing where our ancestors once stood” Sarah says.

The first posts installed are in Spring Grove.

“In the 1800s, Spring Grove was a real community hub, so it is fitting the project starts here,” Sarah says.

A small launch at the Spring Grove Drill Hall was recently held for local historical societies, local counsellors and colleagues.

“About 60 people attended and were really enthusiastic about seeing the AR in action, it was great,” Sarah says.

Another twelve more posts will be installed around Spring Grove, with plans to expand into Wakefield and then into Nelson city and beyond.

One story details the life of Bunny Arnold, an ancestor of Sarah’s, which she will complete as her Level 5 Diploma of Animation final project.

“There is a lot of collaboration between programme areas and opportunities for tutors and ākonga to get involved,” says Sarah.


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The Williams Higgins Cottage modelled by CGI student, Blair Jones.

A first year Bachelor of Information Technology(external link) student, Jayden Houghton, created the official website in the first six months of his degree.

“His professionalism, eye for detail and commitment to the project is outstanding,” Sarah says. “You need to keep an eye out for Jayden, what he is doing is phenomenal.”

Sarah Wallace, 2022 graduate of the Bachelor of CGI(external link) and now tutor at NMIT, modelled and created the animations for stories on Constable Knapp with his parrot and the Spring Grove railway.

Third year Computer Generated Imagery(external link) (CGI) ākonga, Blair Jones, modelled the William Higgins cottage which is currently at the Spring Grove Hall for demonstration purposes.

Sarah is excited for the prospect of having dozens of posts dotted around the Nelson Tasman region in months to come.

“Before the end of the year, you will be able to download the app and try it out for yourself.”

Check out the Post Memory(external link) website for more information. If you would like to learn more about our study programmes, visit our website.(external link)

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