Auckland Museum

MV Matua

A touch screen experience telling the story of the M.V. Matua for the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Stylised illustration of the M.V. Matua at sea
  • Nostalgia
  • Sensory Evocation
  • Explorable Narratives

As a vital link between Auckland and the Pacific Islands for many years, the story of the M.V. Matua is a story about an earlier New Zealand. To share this with modern museum-goers we were asked to create a nostalgic touchscreen narrative that explored the passengers and journeys of this iconic ship.

In a richly animated interface reminiscent of travel artwork of the time, users were able to delve into an evocative collection of interviews, animated scenes, photography and other ephemera. What emerges from the various treasures is a sense of the ship and what she meant to those she visited and those that used her for travel and trade.

Our priorities in bringing it all to life were to use the romance and possibilities she presented. Carefully stylised illustration, movements and animations captured a feeling of the serenity and idealism of sea travel, while the period photography brims with authenticity and life.


  • Visually Stylised
  • Capturing Spirit
  • Romance
Device in situ, showing main title on screen

Historic Taonga

  • Archival Treasures
  • Browsable Narrative
  • Personal Stories

In carefully curating a mix of media elements we were able to evoke a more rounded sense of the ship and her impact.

Developed screen layout referencing an album to explore historic photography

Idealised illustration

Informed by period travel artwork, we used a simplified palette and style to create the dreamlike serenity associated with ocean cruising in the past.

Pacific elder in video still frame

Authentic interviews

Adding emotional humanity to the piece were some key interviews with former passengers.

Main navigation screen

Interactive maps

By exploring the routes the M.V. Matua took, viewers understood the nature of the connections she made in a world that felt much bigger.


  • Referential Palette
  • Historic Context
  • Social Commentary
Dim screenshot of M.V. Matua and tug at sea
MV Matua
Watch Reel
Case Study - 2022 Showreel

To visually bring the golden-age of cruise liners to life we used a sleek-nostalgic illustrative style but informed it with a distinctly Pacific twist.

While the style is effortlessly romantic, it was important to nod to the realities in the stories. So where relevant we depicted the human dramas, everyday life at that time and what it was like to suddenly come into contact with the great ship.

Other Projects