The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is to join an illustrious list of world heritage sites such as Pompeii and Easter Island to be digitally preserved.
The site in the Bay of Islands will be digitally mapped by US-based non-profit organisation CyArk to ensure it would be available for future generations in an online 3D library.
CyArk has already digitally mapped locations such as Chichen Itza in Mexico, Babylon in Iraq, and Mount Rushmore in the US.
It has been invited by Air New Zealand to carry out the Waitangi mapping as part of the airline’s effort to ensure New Zealand heritage and culture can be shared globally.
“Our cultural identity is a key element of both our nation’s history and of our tourism proposition,” said Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon.
“We expect that the content CyArk creates will become an educational asset to encourage a deeper connection with New Zealand and Māori culture, particularly for those who will never get to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.”
CyArk would undertake the digital mapping process over two weeks this summer using reality capture technologies such as laser scanning, photogrammetry and drone imagery to create a highly-detailed surface map of the site.
Once completed, the CyArk digital content would be gifted to Waitangi for use in Te Kōngahu – Museum of Waitangi and on its website to promote New Zealand’s cultural identity and encourage visitors to the Far North.
CyArk chairman and chief executive John Ristevski said: “We are excited to have the opportunity to digitally document and preserve one of the most important sites in the Pacific region and one so integral to both New Zealand and Māori history.
“We are very grateful for the support of Air New Zealand, and hope that the data collected will help bring the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the rich history of New Zealand to a much broader audience.”
Waitangi Treaty Grounds chief executive Greg McManus said it was appropriate that Waitangi has been chosen as the subject for the CyArk project.
“Waitangi is Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant historic site and of immense importance to all New Zealanders, Māori, Pakeha and new-New Zealanders alike,” said McManus.
“We want to share the story of this amazing place with the world and this project will help achieve that.”
The CyArk 3D data of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds will include engineering drawings and detailed maps and is expected to be ready early next year.