Waitangi Day and Google Earth

Maori has a nifty idea for Waitangi Day:

New Zealand’s indigenous broadcaster, Maori Television, is putting out the call for all New Zealanders to come home for Waitangi Day 2009 but forget the planes, and automobiles you would usually rely on. This year, the only travel required will be in a virtual sense.

The broadcaster has created its own layer on Google Earth to collect messages from anywhere in the world devoted to the question: ‘Where on Google Earth will you be on Waitangi Day?’

Pictures, videos and text can all be uploaded into the page – from Aotearoa-New Zealand and beyond – to appear on the specially-created layer as a pin on the spinning globe. Anyone can upload material, ranging from a simple text message to photos, via Google’s photo sharing service, Picasa, or for the more tech-savvy among us, videos via YouTube.

‘Where on Google Earth will you be on Waitangi Day?’ is the question but also the concept that will underpin the channel’s broadcast dedicated to New Zealand’s day, Waitangi Day, on Friday February 6 2009. The most inspiring, fun and heart-warming messages will be played throughout Maori ’s programme, KOTAHI TE RA: WAITANGI DAY 2009.

“For anyone who has ever been away from home on our day – or even if you’re at home but feeling that tug of national pride – this is the chance to connect to something special,” says Maori chief executive Jim Mather. “We believe this is something new and unique for an indigenous broadcaster, or indeed any broadcaster, to connect with its people via the internet.”

The technology used is essentially a specially-created layer visible on Google Earth which allows New Zealanders, their friends and families all around the world to create a message and load it into the space, marked by a map pin. “The beauty of the concept is its simplicity,” says Mr Mather. “It is easy to use, people can be as interactive as their abilities allow. It is all about the feeling.”

To see the short demonstration, or if you want to post a message, go to www.maoritelevision.com and follow the Google Earth link. Google Earth can be downloaded at earth.google.com.

Nice to see innovative thinking at Maori TV. They provide by far the best ANZAC Day coverage, and suspect will do the same with Waitangi Day.

And hey we’ll have a Prime Minister next year who isn’t afraid to spend Waitangi Day at Waitangi!

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