MARU NIHONIHO MNZM
Maru Nihoniho MNZM is the Managing Director of Metia Interactive, an award-winning game development studio. A game developer and designer, she leads a team of talented developers, artists and programmers. As well as designing and developing original IP she also produces third party games across multiple platforms including PlayStation, iOS, Android, PC, Mac and other technologies such as Virtual Reality.
Under Maru's leadership Metia developed SPARX, an educational tool to help rangatahi (young people) combat depression. SPARX was developed in conjunction with researchers from the University of Auckland and is an animated 3D game where young people learn life skills to combat depression by completing challenges based on proven cognitive behaviour therapies. The game has been proven to have a significant positive impact on young people aged 12 to 19 years. SPARX has won several awards including the 2011 United Nations World Summit Awards in the e-Health and Environment category. Her first commercial title 'Cube', a puzzle game for the PlayStation Portable, was published in 2006 and released in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australasia. 'Cube 2', in development, is a psychometric test tool that will help improve spatial and cognitive abilities. Maru provides mentoring and advice to those looking to get into game development and has given talks at schools and industry events.
In 2016 Maru was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for her work in gaming and mental health, and was recently awarded the Innovator of the Year in 2017 MCV Pacific Women in Games Awards from Microsoft Xbox. She is a member of the Kea World Class New Zealand network and in May 2018 Maru received the Māori Entrepreneurial Leader Award at the University of Auckland Māori Business Leaders Awards. In February 2018 Maru completed a Master’s Degree in Technological Futures and is currently serving as a Director of Maori Television.