May 18, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

New app focuses on NZ’s path to Nationhood

3 min read


Cath Ferguson of Kerikeri will be sending her visitors packing this summer – though in the nicest possible way.

A keen historian and researcher who has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of local history, Cath will be encouraging family and friends to hit the road and discover some of Northlands amazing stories for themselves, though she will be recommending that they take one item with them – Heritage New Zealands Path to Nationhood app.

The new app is the perfect guide for people wanting to learn more about Northland – and to hear stories about some of the earliest interactions between Maori and Pakeha in the years prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi,” says Cath.

“Ill definitely be encouraging our guests to download the free app and enjoy the stories about kidnappings, shootings, rough justice, mana, missionaries and mistaken identity – to name just a few.”

As a local historian, Cath and her husband Trevor were invited to take part in one of the original pilot trips which put the app through its paces while still in its design phase earlier this year. Her knowledge and eagle eye for detail was a real boon for the team putting the finishing touches to the Path to Nationhood suite of six app-based tours of the Bay of Islands and the Hokianga.

“I could see, even at the early stages of the apps development, the huge potential that this new technology has to tell stories and engage peoples interest in our history – and this app covers a particularly frenetic and fascinating period of time!” she says.

“We have stories of whalers, traders, vagabonds, soldiers, governors, land-grabbers, politicians, gentle-folk and even a few Aussie convicts – all of whom made their presence felt as they settled in the Bay of Islands and beyond.”

The tours are free to download onto Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, and once downloaded can be enjoyed anywhere – irrespective of whether there is wi-fi or a cellular connection – making it the perfect virtual tour guide.

The six app-based tours cover the Bay of Islands, the East Coast up to Whangaroa and Kaeo, and the Hokianga as well as other places to the north and south. There is also a maritime tour of the Bay of Islands for boaties wanting to experience some of the Bays history with their summer-time cruising.

Written and researched by former Heritage New Zealand staff member and Kerikeri resident Stuart Park – with Professor Manuka Henare and his team at the University of Auckland School of Business providing a Maori cultural and historical perspective – the tours incorporate audio using actors like Tui Ruwhiu and Michael Hurst, as well as sound effects that bring the stories to life.

“The app tours contain a really great collection of remarkable stories that cleverly convey a sense of wild frontier, which was the reality of life in New Zealand at that time,” says Cath.

“The tours make this incredible period of our history come alive, and tell these stories in an engaging and accessible way. Theyre ideal for visitors to Northland, or locals who want to get a better understanding of some of the historical events that set us on the path to nationhood.”

For a free download of the Path to Nationhood suite of Northland tours visit or search for Heritage Trails through your online app store.

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