While overseas, Aucklanders Gordon and Cathy Duncan came up with an App idea that streams geo-located video and animated stories to digitally connect visitors to the place they are standing.

The Duncans’ relied on travel books to help get them through Europe and Asia.

However they were constantly frustrated that they couldn’t fully appreciate the underlying stories they knew existed in many of the locations they visited, so Tuhura Ltd was born.

“Words alone cannot convey a place’s colourful culture and the likes of amazing historical events that might have occurred right where you are. We thought surely our digital devices in our pockets could be put to better use to help open our eyes and better connect us to these places,” said Gordon.

Tuhura means “to discover” in Maori and underpins the Duncan’s determination to develop an App that places emphasis on recapturing the stories of indigenous Maori in a respectful and authentic way.

Tuhura’s App, Discover NZ Tourism, is free to download on Apple and Android platforms. It contains over 650 short geo-located video and animation clips, with many also available in Chinese.

“This is all about adding value to the visitor experience and responding to the demand for ‘deep travel’ where people don’t just want the photos, they want the knowledge and the understanding of where they’re at and why it’s an important place.”

A key part of their revenue is from taking bookings on behalf of New Zealand’s significant tourism operators.

“They pay a relatively small service fee and we get a percentage from bookings made.”

Gordon said Tuhura has been building relationships with Ngati Whatua and received encouragement from Maori tourism leaders.

Tuhura is in discussions with several secondary and tertiary educational providers. The idea is media or animation students research and create short video or animated stories to be included on the App, providing young Kiwis with a chance to have their work published.

Much of the initial content on the App has been sourced and leased from TVNZ Archives. However, Gordon said there remains plenty of scope from tourism operators, community groups, education providers and Iwi to contribute.

Tuhura is not about users uploading their own images or experiences, however.

“Our business challenge now is to just get more and more people to download it. Even though it’s free, that is always harder than it sounds.”