Prime Minister Unveils Striking Digital artwork in Auckland’s Aotea Centre

Auckland’s Aotea Centre

Location: Aotearoa , New Zealand
Equipment Used: VuePix Infiled QE 3.9 LED Panels
LED Digital Solutions

A large-scale digital artwork by renowned New Zealand artist Lisa Reihana has been installed in the Aotea Centre foyer, immersing visitors in a visual spectacle, telling the traditional Māori story of the origins of our world.

Commissioned by Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), the permanent installation was officially unveiled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in her capacity as Minister for Culture and Heritage.

Alongside the development of the concept, RFA and the architects were working with ULA Group to custom design and manufacture the LED screens and for advice on power and data requirements.

For the digital display, ULA Group manufactured fully customised VuePix Infiled 3.9mm QE LED panels, totalling over 7.5 million pixels and a perforated mesh screen border for a seamless fit into the space. “The real challenges on this project were firstly acquiring the exact measurements in an operational construction site, and then secondly catering for the structural angles, which we did at the top using stepped modules, 125x125mm in size,” explains Garth Reynolds, Branch Manager of ULA Group NZ.

For the digital display, ULA Group manufactured fully customised VuePix Infiled 3.9mm QE LED panels, totalling over 7.5 million pixels and a perforated mesh screen border for a seamless fit into the space.

“Attention to detail was critical. Our VuePix Product Manager Nathan Wright was overseeing quality control at our VuePix Infiled factory throughout the whole manufacturing process. The whole team worked closely with the engineers, the team and Auckland Live, the performing arts arm of RFA, to deliver a customised solution, the perfect fit for this unique project.”
Once the design was approved, the team was able to confirm the exact pixel ratio for Lisa, with the left screen measuring 1792 by 2464 pixels and the right 1408 by 2464 pixels.

Lisa then created the content pixel for pixel to match each video wall, avoiding any distortion or pixilation due to scaling. “Nowadays I bring quite a lot of experience to non-standard projects,” Lisa chuckles. “As the creative I know that discussion is key. We have our concept conversations, our digital discussions and we reflect on the feeling that we want the audience to have when they see it.” Lisa cites the example of the lower level. “There are several viewing angles where you can really appreciate the scale of Ihi from the entrance level but the furniture on the level below also provides a comfortable place to just watch and contemplate.”

The Technical Production team at Auckland Live worked extremely hard to find the best possible software solution to drive the content. Much research and testing by Auckland Live’s Senior Vision Technician, Francis van Kuijk, went into the decision-making process, testing various types of hardware and software in conjunction with the artist to ensure an optimum result. The final solution was that the content was controlled by Millumin 3 software, running off Mac hardware, connected to a BlackMagic eGPU Pro to integrate with two NovaStar MCTRL 4K processors.

The local HTS Group team was appointed as system integrator, working closely with the engineers on the whole installation side of this project. “The quality of HTS Group’s work was key to the success of the project,” comments Garth.

As always when working in a live entertainment venue, staying on programme was essential and the support structure was erected within a week and the panels in five days. Project management by Joey Rabel, Auckland Live Manager Technical Equipment, coordinating the logistics of the installation with Lisa Reihana and her team, building renovation work, scheduled events and power and data installation, was key to ensuring the artwork was completed for the unveiling on 29 January.

There followed more testing, with the actual artwork running. Garth was pleased, “The real success of this project is that there were no issues at all during or after the build, and the screens have been running smoothly now since 24 December.”

For Lisa though, work continued, “There was a lot of testing of the footage on the screen because LED panels have a very different feel, the light is sharper and the contrast greater. I needed it to look the same in the Aotea Centre as it did in the studio.”

Garth concludes, “Working with a distinguished artist like Lisa Reihana to bring her iconic work of art to life was an amazing experience and a true honour. The support and expertise of the Auckland Live team were terrific and played a huge part in bringing this project to fruition.”

Cuono Biviano, Managing Director of ULA Group adds, “I am very proud of the team at ULA Group and all who have been involved in this amazing project, delivering a unique platform to celebrate Māori culture in the Aotea Centre. Our commitment to the arts and ongoing investment into digital technology is truly reflected in this iconic large-scale digital artwork, the first of its kind in New Zealand.”

Once the design was approved, the team was able to confirm the exact pixel ratio for Lisa,
with the left screen measuring 1792 by 2464 pixels and the right 1408 by 2464 pixels.


In his speech, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the work will be a significant drawcard to Auckland’s Aotea Arts Quarter. “Like other world-class cities, such as Melbourne with its Federation Square, and London with the Southbank, Auckland needs public spaces that proudly showcase our identity and our stories. “Ihi is not only a fitting centrepiece for our Aotea Arts Quarter, it is also an important addition to our rich Māori arts and cultural landscape.”

RFA Board Chair Andrew Barnes said his organisation has a mission to enrich life in Auckland and create unique spaces the community can enjoy, noting Aotea Centre’s recent comprehensive internal refurbishment.

“Aotea Centre forms the heart of so many important arts and cultural activities in Auckland,” he said. “We now have a modern venue that is accessible for all, and this stunning artwork makes it even more inviting for our visitors. Most importantly, it celebrates Te Ao Māori. As kaitiaki for arts and culture, our role is to nurture and celebrate this heritage. We recently renamed Aotea Centre’s Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre to recognise a great ambassador for the arts and for New Zealand. Now we have Ihi, by one of our country’s most celebrated Māori artists.”

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Director Kirsten Paisley said the unveiling of Ihi marks a significant contribution to Māori art, and to Auckland’s public art legacy.

“I am especially delighted that a contemporary work of architectural scale is telling this timeless Māori story in one of Auckland most important public buildings,” she said. “It is incredibly exciting to see a spiritually rich and poignant relationship between mother and son told in an active public space. Ihi, is a slowly revolving, cosmic journey which collapses the creation of the universe, as an ancient narrative that is at once alive and ever more present within us for Lisa’s telling of it. This commission is ambitious, brave and entirely transforms the Aotea Centre. Ihi will have a profound impact on our public art environment and future ambitions. A new benchmark has been set.”

Lisa Reihana is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice examines representation of history.

Lisa Reihana

Lisa Reihana is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice examines representation of history.
Lisa represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2017 with the large-scale video installation in Pursuit of Venus [infected] (2015-17). Her filmed vignettes populate a neo-classical French wallpaper, Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique. Amongst the images of the South Seas idyll portrayed in the original, the imperial gaze is turned back on itself by including cultural practices and first contact narratives to reveal sexual exploitation and gender fluidity. in Pursuit of Venus [infected] premiered at Auckland Art Gallery in May 2015 and has garnered widespread critical acclaim.
Born in 1964, Lisa is of Māori artist of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine and Ngai Tu descent. She graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1987 and completed a Master of Design at Unitec Institute of Technology. Lisa has an extensive exhibition history in New Zealand and abroad. In 2018 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit; in 2014 she was awarded an Arts Laureate Award by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

About the artwork
Ihi explores the relationship between Tāne and Papatūānuku, and the separation that brought the world of Te Ao Mārama to existence.

In the beginning, Ranginui (sky father) and Papatūānuku (earth mother) were locked in a tight embrace. Their sons and daughters dwelt in the darkness between them. Frustrated by the claustrophobic space in which he was confined, Tāne decides to use his powerful legs to prise Ranginui from Papatūānuku, letting light between his parents and life to flourish. After wrenching his parents apart, Tāne surveys the view he has created – a cosmos of stars and moody brooding skies.
Tane continues his quest and climbs to retrieve the baskets of knowledge. Below is Papatūānuku, resplendent in her role as Earth Mother.

Ihi is the division, the separation, the power. Here, light and energy converge under tension and we can feel the push and pull of life’s force.

“Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) enriches life in Auckland by engaging people in the arts, environment, sport and events.”
Bas Kemper  – Transmission’s Lighting Designer.

About the dancers

Taane Mete is a Māori artist of Ngati Kahungunu me Ngati Koriki – Kahukura descent.
Taane is one of New Zealand’s most revered dancers and choreographers. First introduced to dance as a child through Kapa Haka, he has been dancing and performing for 37 years. At the age of 15, Dupree Jazz initiated his pathway to formal training at The New Zealand School of Dance, where he graduated with Honor’s majoring in Contemporary Dance.

Formerly a founding member of Okareka Dance Company, Taane continues his journey as a solo artist through his new company: TAANE METE. His artistic palette is influenced by Māori culture and the rich tapestry of Aotearoa, allowing Taane to weave together profound work steeped in indigenous tradition (see

Nancy Wijohn is a Māori artist of Te Rarawa, Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Whaoa and Ngati Tahu descent.
Nancy’s contemporary dance career spans 15 years as a performance/movement artist, choreographer, teacher and physical therapist. Nancy has worked with some of NZ most prolific companies and artists. She was a core member of the Atamira Dance Company from 2008 – 2017, dancing in shows around the world and choreographing three works for the company. For the Okareka dance company, Nancy performed in the company’s most successful show, Mana Wahine.
Nancy worked with the late Douglas Wright in his 2011 debut of ‘Rapt’ at the Auckland Festival, which also toured Holland. She has collaborated with many artists in Aotearoa and around the world. As an independent artist, Nancy collaborates and co-directs with fellow dance colleague and partner Kelly Nash. Their physical therapy company, Nancy +Kelly Contact Care LTD, allows them to share their passion for helping people resolve physical injuries and regain their health

About RFA

Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) enriches life in Auckland by engaging people in the arts, environment, sport and events. With our six divisions – Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Conventions, Auckland Live, Auckland Stadiums, Auckland Zoo and New Zealand Maritime Museum – we strive to create rewarding visitor experiences and positive outcomes for Auckland. Our innovative and creative programmes delight more than four million visitors a year as we present engaging and accessible experiences across the city every single day. As one of six Auckland Council organisations, we are a charitable trust governed by a board. Our landmark venues include Aotea Centre, Aotea Square, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland Zoo, Bruce Mason Centre, The Civic, Mt Smart Stadium, New Zealand Maritime Museum, North Harbour Stadium, Queens Wharf and Western Springs Stadium.