Stones to iPhones – INNZ Spring Workshop

I attended the INNZ Spring Workshop in Timaru to be inspired. To see things from other points of view, to network with like minded individuals, working in fields unlike mine. While working within the zoo industry is great, stepping out of that context and looking to bring in ideas from other types of organisations is an exciting challenge; a challenge of great benefit to me as an interpreter.

Oli and guides at the Eagle Cave.

I'm on the left as our guides Karl and Sue invite us to explore the Cave of the Eagle.

This year we were hosted by Te Ana: Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre. A highlight of day one was going out to the rock art sites to look at drawings done hundreds of years ago. There is so much mystery around them. Who drew them and why? Were they the work of an accomplished artist? Were they a means of communication between travelling iwi? Or were they an ancient form of graffiti, maybe done to entertain the mokopuna? Our guides were friendly and informative, but still allowed provocative thought – they were fantastic.

Inside Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre

INNZ workshoppers have a go at creating their own 'rock art'

We heard from the Te Ana development team about the process of designing the centre. The work that was done by the development team was a reminder to engage the right people in the process. The centre is about giving Ngai Tahu the means to tell their stories. As interpreters we focus a lot on the final product, the message that is being portrayed to our audience, but sometimes how we get there is just as important.

On day two of the workshop, a World Café session was hosted. It was a great opportunity to get together and discuss current issues in our industry. Three table discussions were set up. Kate Woodall from Te Papa hosted the topic ‘Why digital?’ – very relevant to our industry, as some of the biggest buzz going on at the moment is around digital experiences. (Stay posted to this blog for other World cafe dicussion topics).

As an interpreter looking for inspiration QR codes, iApps, augmented reality, and RFIDs to name a few, offer new possibilities. But the question around the table was, who really wants digital experiences? Do our audiences expect them? Or is it an expectation from within the industry?

As the discussion went on it became clear that we should be asking ourselves “how can digital enhance the experience for visitors? Is it always the right tool for the job?”

One of Kate’s messages was – if you are going to do it, do it right and for the right reasons. Digital experiences are a tool that can add another layer to an experience. One of the people around our table suggested that maybe an indicator for success in this area is that visitors don’t know they are having a digital experience. I like the idea of that seamlessness.

Valley of the Eagle.

A landscape of inspiration - the Valley of the Eagle

There is so much good work being done in New Zealand. Every time I go to an INNZ workshop or conference I see something or experience something that reinvigorates and inspires me. The Interpretation Network of New Zealand is only as strong as it members, and if the recent workshop is anything to go by, it’s going from strength to strength.

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