November 08, 2023
Plastic and sawdust brings blast from the past
A University of Auckland professor is working with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to make replicas of taonga pūoro with 3d printers.
Olaf Diegel, the head of the engineering faculty’s creative design and additive manufacturing lab, says he trialed the process with a whānau pūtātara or conch shell trumpet owned by the university’s Māori Pro Vice Chancellor, Michael Steedman.
The heirloom was put through a CT scan at Auckland City hospital and the data was used to create a plastic replica which retained its original sound.
The lab is now working with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to make pūkāea or long wooden trumpets with sawdust and bio epoxy resin.
He says it’s a way to preserve traditions through modern technology.
“So by providing people access in a sensitive way, I think that’s where you sort of really help to grow the culture in a meaningful way and that’s what I guess what we’re trying to do. And that’s what the guys from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, that’s what they’re so excited about, about suddenly being able to get people to hands on experience all these ancient treasures,” he says
Professor Diegel says the project also involves looking at how to protect the intellectual property so replicas of taonga aren’t mass produced for profit, stepping on their mana.