Whakahākori Animation Film Competition is the beginning of a range of international education collaborations by New Reality Group to help our young kiwis' unleash their creativity, develop new tech skills, and promote the value and advantages of STEAM. Powered by Unity, hosted by Media Design School.

The Whakahākori Digital Animation Film competition begins with a 3-day student conference, that offers learning and use of Unity cutting-edge technology, hero inspirational speakers, and practical workshops.

Hero speakers include:

  • Ron Martin – Creative Director, Unity (USA)
  • Sir Richard Taylor, Weta Workshop (NZ)
  • Marcus Bell, Bellringer Music (USA)
  • David Downs, NZ Story (NZ)
  • Unity Tech Tutors (Singapore, India, Malaysia, Australia)

Hākori is a first for Aotearoa.  Students use cutting edge technology, learn from global leaders, and practical classes to make movies.


The Competition

 Participants must create a three-minute animated film, using Unity animation software – www.unity.com. 

The story content streams are social impact, business sustainability, and Māori/Pacific.


PC hardware requirements for following along:

Windows PC with DirectX 12 and Shader Model 5.0

Optional: RTX series graphics card


Whakahākori Animation Film Competition and Bootcamp

4th July - Workday 1 – Creating the Context: The Power of Storytelling

8.30 Arrival

8.45 Introducing intention of learning hubs, introductions, and engagement

9.15 Ron Martin of Unity Technologies about how platforms like Unity allow for the creation of enhanced storytelling capabilities for any scenario within any industry. All content for film, gaming, music is firstly shaped by storytelling.

11.00 Break


11.15 Ron continued (including Adam Singleton)

12.00 Lunch

1.00 Guest speaker (David Downs, NZ Story)

2.30  Break

2.45 Practical

4.45 Unity Q&As

5.15 End Day


5th July - Workday 2 – Imagination: The Bridge to Creation

8.30 Review of day one – Q&A’s

9.30 Sir Richard Taylor, Wētā – Imagination: The Lifeforce of Any Project

Hear about how imagination and creativity are the life-force of any project. Together they enable original and unique ideas for form, the importance of developing a strong masterful narrative and following processes. Q&A’s

10.30 Break

11.00 Unity lessons – Painting with light – Ron Martin

12.30 Lunch

1.30 Ron Martin – Practical – introduction of new technologies

3.00 Break

3.15 Practical

5.00 Completion Overview of industry, work, future – Ron Martin

5.30 End Day


6th July - Workday 3 – Unleashing Your Creativity to Reality

8.15 Arrival

8.30 Unity Emerging products like Art Engine for material Unity Artistry – Directing Realtime - Ron LIVE – Professional Artistry Tools Lesson 3 - Virtual Production - Unity Practical Lesson - Q&A’s - main room - VIDEO (Q&A via zoom) Q&A

10.30 Break

10.45 Introduction to Marcus Bell

11.00 ***Monetizing Your Impact Marcus Bellringer (USA) https://www.bellringermusic.com/about

12.30 Lunch

1.15 Unity Practical

3.30 Q&A’s

4.00 Being Changemakers

4.45 Unity Animation showcase

5.00 Completion


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Wynyard Quarter

Ron Martin Guest Speaks at Whakahākori Animation Film Competition
Guest Speaker: Ron Martin

For over 3 decades, Ron has worked with teams to create storytelling with CG content, having directed game cinematics for Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Rainbow 6:Ravenshield and Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.

Traveling to over 25 countries to work with studio clients has inspired Ron's quest to share how Unity’s real-time engine can empower creatives to achieve their vision.

Marcus Bellringer Guest Speaks at Whakahākori Animation Film Competition
Guest Speaker: Marcus "Bellringer" Bell

Marcus Bell has marketed, promoted, produced, written songs for, mentored and developed some of the world’s leading superstars and brands. Not called on just by the entertainment industry, Marcus also coaches and  trains people from all fields  in increasing their visibility.

Sir Richard Taylor of Wētā will be giving a Masterclass at the Whakahakori
Guest Speaker: Sir Richard Taylor

With over 30 years’ experience, co-founder and creative Director, Richard Taylor is the passionate creative at the core of Wētā and founding board member of Florida-based mixed reality technology company Magic-Leap.

Richard has won over 30 national and international awards for work within the creative industries. Amongst these awards, is a Knight Companion of NZ Order of Merit for his services to film awarded in 2010 and in 2012 was named New Zealander of the Year.

David Downs of NZ Story will be giving a Masterclass at the MDS Whakahakori
Guest Speaker: David Downs

David is CEO of The New Zealand Story, an ambitious organisation marketing New Zealand to the world.

David has held senior roles at organisations such as Microsoft, and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, and is also a published author, known for two highly successful books on NZ innovation – No.8 Re-wired, and No.8 Recharged.

The ex-comedian, TV and Radio actor, semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year, and survivor who documented his battle with cancer in his book A Mild Touch of the Cancer, co-founded sosbusiness.nz, a not-for-profit initiative to help cafes and other small businesses during COVID-19.

David continues to act as a consultant for government and industry, as well as a director on a number of boards, including The Icehouse, the Hi-Tech Trust and the Well Foundation, while also continuing his writing career, with his latest book, Silver Linings, released in March 2021.