TRAVELLERS exploring Niue’s Huvalu Conservation Forest will have all the forest facts at their fingertips following completion of a major biodiversity project on the island.
Funded by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in partnership with the Niue Tourism Office and the Niue Department of the Environment, the six-month project involved research on the island’s forest biodiversity and the development of a number of educational installations and resources including:
- interactive displays at the Niue Visitor Information Centre with text, images, maps, artifacts and the island’s first interactive touch screen display,
- informative signage throughout Huvalu Forest on items of scientific, cultural and historical significance and indigenous uses of the forest’s ecosystems,
- a large public display at Niue’s Hannan International Airport,
- self-tour information brochures.
Auckland-based creative agency RUN developed all the display materials and managed and facilitated the project under contract to the FAO, consulting extensively with government departments, village councils and local guides to compile the biodiversity picture with the assistance of a Landcare Research team.
RUN Design Director Laura Cibilich, who led the project, says it came about through the FAO’s promotion of eco-tourism globally – a $20 billion industry – as part of 2017’s Year of Sustainable Tourism.
“The aim was to promote Niue’s forest conservation area, which covers almost a quarter of the island and is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity ‘hotspots’, containing some of the most threatened plants and animals in the world,” she said.
“We wanted to create a product that made it easy for people to find out about the Huvalu at all levels – from a short summary in the forest to deeper detail via the Information Centre touchscreens. Our goal was to create installations that would inform, educate and excite both visitors and locals about the importance of the forest in sustaining the island’s ecosystems, culture and biodiversity conversation in the Pacific.”
Niue Tourism Director of Marketing Felicity Bollen said the Huvalu Forest has been a conservation area for many years.
“But till now information on the Forest wasn’t readily available particularly for visitors. We’re excited these new installations give them a chance to learn more both in the forest and via the new interactive technology,” she said.
RUN Creative Director Raymond McKay said special touches in the project included the recycling of local Kafika hardwood from the forest for use as signposts, and development of a special typeface based on old Niue signs for use in all displays and materials. Niuean illustrator LeGrand Hekau was also involved in the project, bringing invaluable local knowledge to the signage and displays.
Completed at no cost to either the Niuean or New Zealand Government, the project was launched during the recent visit of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, and a parliamentary delegation for the official opening of the Scenic Matavai Resort’s new conference centre.