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Hori Te Ariki Mataki

Animation artist and startup founder

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Ever since he started at Christchurch’s Aranui high school, Hori Te Ariki Mataki loved to draw. It was this passion for illustration and traditional carving that led him to focus on animation and design, after completing a Diploma of Māori Studies at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT, now Ara Institute of Canterbury).

Doing what he loves, and helping others to do so, is the aim of Hori’s business, Ariki Creative, which takes cultural thinking to animation and creates designs that include a narrative from an Indigenous point of view. “I come from a Māori community, so the skills I had appealed to a familiar demographic,” explains Hori.

“Because I had a background in illustration, animation artistry and carving, I put together a pitch for the local community’s logo that combined these elements – I think it took three weeks and I got $100 – but it was the start, and the community still uses the logo today.” Hori worked as a freelance animation artist and illustrator, before deciding to scale up his business.

“A lot of the work we were getting was about taking traditional Māori elements and stories and bringing them into a modern context, for example, corporate branding and interior design. I could see the benefits around my job were in acquisition, and I needed to replicate my skills in others so I could grow the business.”

The team now work with other businesses as an incubator of Māori digital creative excellence, and gained a government grant of more than $250,000 for this and the digital apprenticeships they offer.

His next aim is to use tech to communicate cultural and social values. “Māori have traditions around respecting people and their whakapapa (genealogy), but the digital era is like the Wild West,” he says. “We want to build something that has the same narrative our traditional stories had around how to behave and how to treat each other in a new form. That’s what we’re doing with the new grant, so kids can read these stories much like they would read about Māui.”

Hori’s pathway to animation artist and startup founder

> > Diploma of Maori Studies, Ara Institute, formerly CPIT

> > Bachelor of Graphic Design (Animation), Ara Institute, formerly CPIT

> > Founder/Designer, Ariki Creative

> > Co-Founder, Te Ao Hangarau

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“We want to build something that has the same narrative our traditional stories had around how to behave and how to treat each other in a new form.”


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