New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern takes stage as hologram

Image source, NZTech
Image caption,
Move over Princess Leia, here comes Jacinda...

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given the opening address at national tech event in truly appropriate fashion: as a hologram.

As she was unable to attend Techweek in person, the audience was treated to a virtual version of her on stage.

According to the organisers of the Techweek event, it makes her the first world leader to use the technology.

So far, holograms have been largely the stuff of science fiction or used to get dead celebrities back to the stage.

Remember when Princess Leia magically projected out of R2-D2 in the original Star Wars film?

The real world has caught up with science fiction a bit since then.

Perhaps the most famous hologram so far was a 3D projection of the late Tupac Shakur performing with Snoop Dogg at 2012's Coachella festival.

A virtual Michael Jackson also performed a new song after his death in 2014 at the Billboard Music Awards.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Tupac Shakur (right), though long dead, rapping with Snoop Dogg

Ms Ardern's virtual appearance on Monday might have been somewhat less glamorous than a space princess or a late rap star but it was in keeping with event's theme of innovation.

New Zealand's Techweek is a nine-day series of events to showcase success in technology and connect companies from the sector.

In her opening remarks, Ms Ardern said New Zealand had "always been a nation of innovators", citing the country's nuclear free policy and focus on climate change.

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The prime minister also likened the nation's creative energy and ability to find unexpected answers to the indigenous Maori culture.

"It is sometimes referred to as pōtiki spirit: the attitude of the youngest member of the family, the fearless one who asks the questions others don't, and takes the chances others shy away from." Ms Ardern said, describing it as the "essence of our New Zealand tech and innovation story".

Ms Ardern is not the first politician though to have a virtual version of herself as a stand-in.

In 2014, now-Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi used projections of himself with holographic effects during his election campaign to address rallies.

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