Puke Ariki— We've Got Some Great Stories to Tell
Simon Pickford, Puke Ariki, New Zealand
Puke Ariki (Hill of the Chiefs) is the new united museum, library and visitor information center for Taranaki, New Zealand. Our vision for the Puke Ariki Web site was to create an on-line resource that provided a taste of what can be found within Puke Ariki itself, as well as a showcase for the stories of Taranaki: the people, the places, the events, the myths and legends that make Taranaki such a unique place. The needs of the education sphere were a primary concern in the development of the site. Visitors are able to own the site's contents as they are encouraged to research and write their own Taranaki Story and publish it on the site. This award-winning site is the most in-depth, regional heritage-information site in New Zealand and is also partially bilingual (English and Te Reo Maori). We believe it to be essential viewing for teachers, students, genealogists, historians, and visitors to Taranaki.
Keywords: stories, education resources, Taranaki, New Zealand, databases, content management
The Taranak Stories on the Puke Ariki Web site provide a rich, accessible narrative experience. Using conventions and rules borrowed from traditional news media, our research / writing team created over 100 Taranaki Stories which cover many topics, including conflict, sporting heroes, immigration, business and the arts. Each story includes links to related museum artifacts, library books, archives, education resources and external Web sites. All the stories celebrate this unique region of New Zealand. We also developed a number of interactive, educational games / simulations/ walk-throughs that make learning accessible and fun. Teachers can download a series of worksheets based around the Taranaki Stories. In order to further leverage content, Puke Ariki produces TreasureLink, a weekly teaching resource that provides activities and extension study ideas based on a Taranaki Story and linked to the New Zealand Curriculum. There are many on-line databases (including some that have never been available on the Web before): books, photographs, archives, artifacts and searchable lists of the early ships' passengers into Taranaki (in the Resources section).
We are the people of Taranaki. Different races and cultures who came here for different reasons. While we celebrate our differences, we all share a passion for this place, our home, our spiritual center - Taranaki. This center, Puke Ariki, is designed to tell the great stories of our land, its people and their place in the world. When you leave, you will know more about yesterday and today— to enhance tomorrow.
Puke Ariki is the largest cultural project ever undertaken in the Taranaki region - a unique integration of museum, library, visitor information center and more that redefines traditional concepts of information, education, research and entertainment.
You can visit the library to research a project on insects, and next to the books you'll find extensive displays of specimens. Visit the museum to see age-old artifacts, and within seconds you'll be clicking into a virtual library of in-depth information and images.
Check out the newspapers of yesteryear and you can also sneak a glance at the latest breaking news from CNN - or wander to the visitor center for directions to a place you've glimpsed here and want to experience for real.
Imagine a museum so cramped that just 5% of the collection is on display. That was the case with the Taranaki Museum for nearly 35 years. The unseen 95% was stored in the basement of the building, which also housed New Plymouth's public library and War Memorial Hall. By the early 1980s, the library was running out of room as well, and staff of the two public institutions began battling for space. The need to expand was finally addressed in 1993 when the New Plymouth District Council established a working party to consider and initiate museum development and future library needs.
In 1995 the site was agreed upon. The new museum complex was to be built near the foreshore, with the library spreading out in the existing building. In 1996, the council recognized the historical significance of the site by naming the project Puke Ariki. The site has mana (authority / influence / power / prestige), which accords Puke Ariki regional significance. Originally Puke Ariki Pa, the site was a hill, the name meaning Hill of Chiefs. The landing was also originally the heart of the early colonial town and the location of the first provincial council. In 1996/7, Komiti Maori was formed to represent all the iwi in the Taranaki region.
The important issue of funding for the site was finally decided in 1999 when the council confirmed its NZ$12.3 (US$8.2) million budget and resolved the extra NZ$3 (US$2) million needed to cover the fit-out must be raised by the community and through non-council grants. Puke Ariki eventually managed to raise another NZ$11 (US$7.3) million towards the project. Puke Ariki was opened by The Prime Minister in June 2003.
Web Site History
Before the opening of combined museum, library and visitor information center, each maintained its own site and Web address. Each site was independent and had minimal content and functionality.
With the opening of Puke Ariki planned for June 2003, it was decided to create a Web presence that reflected the combined nature of the institution.
Web Site Overview
The Taranaki Stories section can be regarded as the keystone of the site.
Puke Ariki's vision is to …tell the great stories of our land, its people and their place in the world - the Taranaki Stories aim to achieve this as well as combining the disparate strands that make up Puke Ariki: museum, library and visitor information.
It was decided at the outset of the project that the Web site would tell the varied stories of this region - the people, places and events that make Taranaki such a unique place. Each story would be supported by the Puke Ariki collections and provide rich educational resources and suggestions for further research. Some of the stories would be well known, but some would be told for the first time. All would convey the special nature of Taranaki and its place in New Zealand's history.
Ownership would reside with the people of Taranaki and therefore readers would be encouraged to contribute their own Taranaki Story, which may be published on-line.
The challenges that faced the development team were as follows:
To ensure that the stories being told were the 'right' ones, a Content Committee of nine representative stakeholders was convened. The membership consisted of teachers, the writing/research team, a Maori representative, and local historians from around Taranaki. The committee initially identified over 160 stories to cover.
The criteria used to select the stories were simple. Any story:
Once the stories had been identified, they were grouped into categories:
Some stories were placed in more than once category if applicable. This grouping allows users to find stories by theme or by geographical location.
The committee's brief was to consider:
The audience for the Taranaki Stories would be broad. It was therefore essential that the stories be accessible to as many readers as possible: from school students to historians. It was decided that the nearest paradigm was the most common form of story: news.
News stories follow conventions and rules that make them easily accessible to the reader. Writing for a newspaper or the Web are similar arts: catchy headlines, short sentences and chunked paragraphs with headings, and aimed at the reading level of a 12-year-old. It was decided to employ an ex-journalist as the primary writer/researcher on the Taranaki Stories. Examples of this newspaper style show how well stories can be told on the Web:
Just hours before the Kiwi assault on Chunuk Bair, one of Taranaki's toughest men wrote about love. Sitting in the heat and squalor of battle-blasted Gallipoli, World War I soldier Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone penned the last letter to his wife, Ida. These are the words the leader of the Wellington Regiment wrote on 5 August 1915:
In less than two hours we move off to a valley, where we will be up all night and tomorrow in readiness for a big attack, which will start from tomorrow night.
Everything promises well and victory should rest with us. God grant it so and that our casualties will not be too heavy. I expect to go through my dear wife. If anything untoward happens to me there are our dear children to be brought up. You know how I love and have loved you, and we have had many years of great happiness together."
From the outside, Malone was considered to be a hard man. At Gallipoli, he put himself on the line for his troops and in Taranaki he fought other battles.
(From W.G. Malone - Tough Man with a Soft Heart ) http://www.pukeariki.com/en/stories/conflict/wgmalone.asp
Within 18 months there were over 100 Taranaki Stories on the Puke Ariki Web site. They could be read and enjoyed by a wide demographic: residents, teachers, students, researchers, home-schoolers, tourists planning a Taranaki holiday, overseas visitors, genealogists and Web surfers from all over the world.
Anatomy of a Taranaki Story
Stories vary between 1000 and 2000 words. Photographs are taken from the Puke Ariki collection whenever possible - other sources include the local newspaper and national resources such as the Alexander Turnbull collection. Where applicable, artifacts and archive material are presented within the body of the story.
Another concept used by traditional print media to great effect is the teaser. We decided to implement this throughout the site so that each Taranaki Story has an associated teaser image and text. The teaser text is designed to entice users to read the story. The image is a cropped duotone image (204 x 72px) taken from the story. The text is a 15-20 word brief description. This teaser information appears on every page of the site and links to that particular story. The teasers are randomized twice a week so that different stories appear wherever the user is within the site.
Teasers have proved an excellent tool for highlighting the range of stories on the site.
The Taranaki Stories are not designed to provide a one-stop shop for information. They are intended to be an inspiration: a jumping-off point to further research. To aid this it was decided to provide extensive supporting resources wherever possible.
The following resources commonly support each story:
A Taranaki Story
The homepage reflects the combined nature of the Puke Ariki complex. It provides a brief introductory statement, exhibition information, visitor information and a link to the Taranaki Stories section of the site.
The About section has the relatively static general information that visitors may require: some background to Puke Ariki, location maps, holiday programmes and opening times.
Treasures is the name that has been adopted to cover all the gallery spaces in Puke Ariki - Taranaki Naturally, Taranaki Life, the Taranaki Experience, the Te Takapou Whāriki o Taranaki, the Temporary Exhibitions Gallery and Discovery it!
Within the Temporary Exhibitions section we have placed supporting information. For example, some temporary exhibitions have associated events and resources. The recent exhibition Parihaka: the struggle for peace was supported on-line by a page of related Taranaki Stories, educational resources, external Web sites, books, archives and photos.
The Library section of the site is currently under review. At present there is only basic information about the district libraries, membership information and a link to the on-line catalogue (iPac). We are looking to develop this into a more interactive section of the site that will allow staff and the public to add book reviews and get reader advisory information.
This section contains the visitor information: databases covering accommodation, activities and events, clubs and organizations.
The Resources section of the Web site is the most data-rich. The sub pages hold links to a variety of databases maintained by Puke Ariki as well as some external on-line resources.
The Puke Ariki archive collection contains the papers, journals, letters (documents) of individuals and families, newspapers, historic records from businesses and organizations and societies within the Taranaki region. This database was originally created for internal reference by the research staff using Inmagic's DB/Textworks. With help from the local reseller we have managed to successfully port this information to the Web. Searches can be performed by keyword (which searches content, names and subject fields), or by individual field.
At present, the database contains information on objects from the following parts of the collection: Natural Sciences, Decorative Arts, and Fine Arts. Issues around the display of Maori taonga (treasures) on the Internet have meant that this rich collection is not available at present. It is our goal to make this and other parts of the collection available in the near future.
This database was originally created for internal reference only using Vernon Browser - a Vernon Systems product. Vernon is widely used throughout Australasia with over 60 sites. The product was easily configured and 'skinned' with the Puke Ariki branding.
Vernon collection provides excellent search and browse functionality. Object highlights can be browsed via quick virtual tour, or searched for by keyword (simple search) or by a range of detailed criteria such as classification, media/materials, primary maker etc.
This database has details of shipping arrivals and departures as taken from the Taranaki Herald 1852 to 1885. It is extensively used internally, and many genealogy sites have created cross-links. This means it has become one of the most visited parts of the site.
This database was originally created for internal reference only by the research staff using Inmagic's DB/Textworks. Searches can be performed by surname, first name, ship's name or date.
This database contains photographs of New Plymouth and Taranaki from the 1850s. This is a small selection (<500 images) from Puke Ariki's photograph collection. This database was originally created for internal reference by the curatorial staff using Inmagic's DB/Textworks.
To allow easy browsing, the photographs have been grouped into eight categories (buildings, business and industry, dairying, Mt Taranaki, NZ Wars / Land Wars, petrochemical industry, port / foreshore, streets). Alternatively, searches can be performed by key word.
Externally maintained databases
These include on-line encyclopedias, library resources and children's e-books. Many of these are only available to library members.
The educational aspects of the Puke Ariki Web site were essential to the success of the overall site. An educational focus group was initiated and consisted of teachers from both the primary and secondary sectors, the education staff at Puke Ariki, the Taranaki Stories writing team, and an interactive developer.
Before the launch of the Puke Ariki Web site there was little Taranaki-specific content available on the Web.
Taranaki Stories for students
The Taranaki Stories have proved to be the most useful to schools. The stories have been written in an accessible style which students find easy to read and understand. The majority of stories are aimed at an audience with a reading level of 12 (another newspaper standard implemented for use on-line). Several stories have also been reworked for a reading level of 8 years.
Case study— intermediate level students
After a role-play lesson on the events leading up to the plunder of Parihaka, a primary school teacher took his class to read about the real thing.
Warren Smart, who teaches a combined Year 5 and 6 class (aged 9, 10 and 11) at New Plymouth's West End School, spent one morning getting his students to imagine their reactions to Taranaki's land struggle of the 1870s and early 1880s. He split his class into three groups: the Government, European settlers and Maori. Then he gave them a series of real scenarios that led to the attack on Parihaka, and let them discuss what they would have done.
“The role play did not include the invasion, so afterwards we went down to the computer room and I brought up the story of the plunder of Parihaka,” Mr. Smart says. “The children read it in pairs and looked at the photos and we discussed the events that took place during that week.”
Mr. Smart says that being able to tap into the story, and for all the pupils to read it at the same time, capped the lesson perfectly.
“The children had lots of questions and some of them had some half ideas of what had happened, but to be able to go to the story and find it straight away was brilliant.”
Mr. Smart used the Taranaki Stories as a resource to plan his lesson and so the scenarios he gave the youngsters during the role-play lesson were events of fact. "They (the students) were able to see if the events really happened and what happened next.
“I thought that it (the story) would be a bit above my kids’ heads, but they thought it was great. They loved the pictures that went with it - the fashions and things in those days were so different and they were able to get a real feel for what happened,” he says.
“They really enjoyed being able to look at it on a computer. When I asked the kids later if they had enjoyed looking at the Web site, 80% thought it was great.”
Mr. Smart says he will definitely use the Web site again, and is already planning to tap into the children's version of The Highwayman. His class is doing a study on Taranaki's past, and has just been on a heritage walk. This included looking at the old White Hart Hotel - one of places held up by the masked man.
“Hopefully, the story will bring the hotel to life for them,” he says.
Case study— high school students
Sacred Heart Girls College history teacher Charles Gill has found the Taranaki Stories an invaluable resource in the classroom. After taking his year 13 students to Parihaka, Mr. Gill wanted backup information on Parihaka, where pacifist leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi led their people in a non-violent struggle to keep tribal lands. During their Parihaka visit, the students learned about the great leaders and events from historian Te Miringa Hohaia. As one of the main experts on the coastal Taranaki village, Mr. Hohaia was used as the main source for the Web site story on Te Whiti and also as co-source in the general story of the 1881 invasion.
“What you have done gave very much of an overview from his (Mr. Hohaia’s) perspective. It was something I could download and give to the students. I was so pleased it was so easy to access.”
Asked if the Taranaki Stories are filling a gap in educational resources, Mr. Gill says: "Absolutely, without a doubt. The resources available on local history are very sparse. I have been discouraged by the difficulty that students have in finding information."
He has also found that the way many history books are written fails to inspire young people to learn about the past. "It puts kids off history to be frank. It's too dense and written at the wrong level."
The Taranaki Stories address this problem.
“The sort of thing you are doing is so much better. Yours are easily digestible by senior students. They are very easy to read.”
Mr. Gill says he will continue to use the Web site as a resource for teaching history to high school students. "It will get used a lot."
Interacting - doing - can be an excellent way to learning (Kolb, 1984). As part of the project's learning resources, eight interactive games, animations and virtual tours were developed. The interactives were conceptualized and storyboarded by the education focus group. A programmer then created the interactives using Macromedia Flash.
Explore the different faces of Mt. Taranaki - the geology, the legend and the way the mountain has been used as an icon. This interactive uses animation and sound to bring the mountain to life.
Polynesian Explorers: Packing a Waka (Canoe)
Polynesian explorers first reached New Zealand more than 800 years ago. What would they have brought with them to help them in their new land? This interactive allows children to choose items to take with them and receive feedback based on those decisions.
Emigration in the 1840s: Packing a Trunk
Life was hard for early immigrants into New Zealand, especially leaving behind family, friends and treasured possessions. This interactive helps children understand the early settlers' lives and the deprivations they faced. Items are dragged on to a trunk and the resulting feedback illustrates a key learning point.
Land Wars Battle: The Battle of Puketakauere
A written description of how a battle unfolded can be difficult to understand - the different parties, events and the interplay over time. This interactive documentary provides an overview of the lead-up to the battle of Puketakauere. Users are then able to choose one of the Imperial commanders or the Maori leader to see how the battle played out from their perspective.
Turnstyle Rotary Cowshed
In the late 1960s, Taranaki farmer Merv Hicks revolutionized the dairy industry with a milking platform that rotated. This interactive allows users to explore the components of the rotary platform. A fun quiz then tests how much the user has learned. Animation and sound are used to great effect in this interactive.
Voices and Images from the First Taranaki War
This documentary-style interactive draws on contemporary quotes and photos from the mid-1800s to tell the story of the outbreak of the first Taranaki war. Sound and animation are used sparingly to highlight the evocative words from this pivotal moment in New Zealand history.
taries can help convey complex issues
Building a Pa
Much has been written about pa (fortified villages) and their uses. This interactive takes an in-depth look at how they were built and how the arrival of the musket changed their construction.
In order to help teachers get the most from the Taranaki Stories, a number of downloadable worksheets in PDF format were created. The worksheets contain ideas for further research and discussion, extensive investigations and possible assessment activities. Each worksheet is closely integrated with the New Zealand School Curriculum and has specifically identified learning outcomes.
TreasureLink is a weekly resource for teachers. It features a different Taranaki Story every week during term time and provides links through a selection of learning activities to Puke Ariki's treasure trove of resources.
TreasureLink is designed to slot into a school's regular weekly program. Teachers can also subscribe to receive TreasureLink by email.
Te Reo Maori language content
A well as English, Te Reo Maori is one of the official languages of New Zealand. Over 160,000 people in New Zealand speak Maori (Statistics New Zealand, 2001). It was decided to provide a portion of the site's content in Te Reo Maori. The site's structure is mirrored so that when the user clicks on the Maori language toggle button, the site's navigation switches to Maori and if there is a Maori language page available, it is displayed.
Several Taranaki Stories have been translated into Te Reo Maori as well as some other high level pages.
Microsoft's Content Management Server 2001 was selected after an extensive review. This product offered a reasonable feature set and was well supported locally with a number of development houses to provide development expertise.
The content management system allows the Puke Ariki Web site to be easily updated twice a week: new Taranaki Stories, new database additions, weekly TreasureLink editions and visitor events.
Metadata and other standards
The site was developed to meet a certain number of standards in order to allow the greatest access.
Spreading the word: Web Site Promotion
Any seasoned Web developer will confirm that Kevin Costner was wrong: if you build it, they won't necessarily come. There are many tried and tested methods for increasing site traffic, and they are extensively covered in depth elsewhere.
To promote the site, several partnership methods were found to be successful:
The Puke Ariki shop - Vivid - sells a variety of iconic Taranaki merchandise. Since most of the stock has a distinctly Taranaki flavor it was decided to brand the shop's bags in a similar manner. Each bag has an image and a brief piece of text from a Taranaki Story. The text also states, Another Taranaki Story from www.pukeariki.com.
s in the bag
This has proved to be an excellent way of promoting the site in an unusual an eye-catching way.
Taranaki's regional newspaper, The Daily News, has proved an invaluable ally in providing promotion for the site. An informal agreement between the two parties allows Puke Ariki free access to the newspaper's photo library. In return, Puke Ariki supplies a Taranaki Story for publication in the Daily News magazine section. A byline refers the reader to the Website.
Awards and Plaudits
NetGuide Web Awards
NetGuide is New Zealand's foremost internet magazine. Each year it runs the NetGuide Awards that recognize the best new sites in a number of different categories.
We want to recognize the most innovative or interesting new site launch of the past 12 months to October 19. It must be a stand-alone new site, not an add-on to an existing site. Nominations are sought for New Zealand Web sites that have launched during this time and have made an impact on a significant number of Internet users in this country.
Puke Ariki was highly commended for best new Web site in 2003. Puke Ariki was the only regional Web site in this category
“Elegant presentation, evokes a sense of pride about this place, has been put together by people who care, and a hugely content rich site to boot.”
Yahoo (Aus & NZ) Site of the Year Awards
Yahoo judges identify the best 40 sites submitted to Yahoo over the past year. Ten finalists are selected and the public can then vote. In 2003 PukeAriki.com achieved third place overall, beating all other New Zealand sites.
Other reviews and features
The Puke Ariki Web site has been well received by users and critics alike. The Taranaki Stories in particular have been identified as examples of exemplary Web writing. We believe this is due to the lessons learned from traditional news media in how to convey a gripping story in an exciting manner.
Supporting material such as databases provide readers with extensive opportunities for further research.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning - Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. New Jersey: Prentice- Hall.
NZGLS Maintenance Agency (2001). The New Zealand Government Locator Service (NZGLS) Metadata Standard and Reference Manual Version 2.0
State Services Commission (2002) Web Guidelines, Version 1.3, 15 August 2002, Guidelines for the management and design of New Zealand public sector Websites
Statistics New Zealand, Published (2002) 2001 Census Of Population and Dwellings: National Summary