Raised up Sky

As part of AUT’s artist residency 2019, Joseph Michael will create the first ever life-size digital reconstruction of New Zealand's largest known living kauri tree, Tāne Mahuta, located in the Waipoua Forest in the Northland region.

The project crosses traditional boundaries between Science and Art, allowing the interplay of information, data and scientific tools to inform the Artwork. In turn the Artwork is helping to inform critical forest management and forest ecology decisions, as well as providing a digital archive of these significant cultural and historical heritage sites.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to expand our knowledge of one of NZ’s most treasured species, we need to think deeper and understand the consequences of our actions toward the natural environment,” Joseph Michael


Joseph is working in conjunction with AUT’s Associate Professor Barbara Bollard, School of Science and her team, who will be studying the trees from a scientific perspective at the same time. Joseph is collaborating with Te Roroa iwi and the Department of Conservation and is supported by Radio NZ and Creative New Zealand.

Special thanks to the team at Envivo for their expert assistance during the scanning process! (Nathan Cossar from Envivo capturing scans in the forest below).

Waipoua - Scan data previews: May 2019

Please note: Coloration (with reference to all of the point could imagery ) we apply various effects to show elevation or highlight specific elements within the forest. They are for artistic reference and do not represent scientific findings aside from height and elevation.

LOCATION : Tane Mauta


TANE - point cloud preview

Rotating through the Tane Mahuta gallery below, we can see the data captured currently. Stage 2 and 3 will capture the remaining sides and root system.


Location : Four Sisters

Four sisters: AERial - top down views

Four sisters: Trees - isolated view

Enables us to see specific trees and a thin cross section of the canopy.

Dead tree scan

FOUR sisters: Tree Section / slice View

By taking a thin section of the imagery we can strip away the forest canopy and show the size of trees and other information.


About Joseph Michael

The artist is renowned for his installation depicting Antarctica which was projected onto the Auckland War Memorial Museum for three nights in March 2017. Described as ‘a cinematic collision of nature and architecture’ ANTARCTICA - while you were sleeping was a full-scale 360-degree projection of a life size majestic iceberg, showcasing the untouched beauty of Antarctica.

The installation was the largest project of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the technology used was also a New Zealand first, with the projection mapped to fit the Museum and bring it to life. Coupled with a soundscape from several vocal icebergs, visitors bore witness to the groans, pops and thunderous claps of collapsing ice walls in this stunning shapeshifting art-work.

Joseph’s work has been featured on 60 Minutes and National Geographic and his luminosity series has been shared by hundreds of thousands of people and issued as a limited edition stamp series by New Zealand post.