World’s first 3D-printed Maori pa completed

Maori Pa001

Here’s some great pics of the final result of my enlistment of Printable Scenery to model a Maori pa and print it on a 3D printer. (Don’t forget to click on the photos to see them in their spectacular full-size glory!)

A Maori pa was a fortified settlement with palisades and defensive terraces. In the pre-European period, these were often built on prominent raised ground, especially volcanic hills. The natural slope of the hill was then terraced.

For years I’ve wanted to have a pa on my wargames table for my colonial New Zealand Wars games, but constructing the fencing from pieces of wood was too fiddly and time-consuming, and the results too fragile. Then I came across Printable Scenery …

Maori Pa002

I discussed with Printable Scenery’s Matt Barker how a model pa needed to work for wargaming.   The company was great – I just sent them some drawings and photos and they started showing me 3D prototypes almost the next day.

By producing the fences and buildings in a modular format, this scenery will be infinitely adaptable to put together any type of fortified structure required for wargaming a typical colonial New Zealand Wars battle or siege.

With over 30 pieces of fences and buildings now available, they can also be modified to form any other type of tribal village, not just Maori. You could even consider such forts for fantasy or pulp fiction games. And by reversing the fences so the posts go on the inside, they can become a generic northern European stockade.

Maori Pa033

The components were designed with pen and paper, and then drafted in 3DMax, where the overhangs and support tolerances for printing were tested. The mesh was exported to Z-Brush for detailing, then ‘decimated’ to provide a workable high-res file in a technique perfected at Printable Scenery. Each piece prints in just over an hour on a Makerbot.

The variety of walls provides an unlimited range of options that can also be scaled, as can the meeting house and huts. Even the statues and entrance-way can be configured in a variety of ways.

Maori Pa022

Once several batches of fences and buildings were printed out, we were keen to see how they would look assembled together to depict a typical Maori hill pa. In our trial layout, three layers of palisading encircle a small hill that has been shaped into defensive terraces. In the centre is the meeting house and huts. The outside circle has an ornate carved gateway. All around is the rugged New Zealand bush.

Maori Pa010

Our pa is populated by 28mm figures made by Empress Miniatures, which cover the New Zealand Wars of the 1840s. There’s even a British attack going in on one side.

The palisades and buildings of the model pa were painted using the ‘dry brushing’ technique. This entails dipping a flat brush into acrylic paint, wiping off most of the paint on a tissue, then sweeping the almost dry brush back and forth across the model to pick up all the raised areas.

Maori Pa028

For the wooden fences and thatch, I started with a medium grey dry-brushing. I then picked out the binding ropes and the sharpened ends of the poles with beige, and the carved tops of the posts and the frames of doors and windows with a rust-red colour. I used some Games Workshop dark washes to bring out the detail of the ropes. This was followed with a light grey dry-brush over everything, and finally the faintest almost white dry-brush.

The bases were covered in PVA glue, and then dipped into sand. I finished them with splotches of different types of model static grass and flock.

Printable Scenery do great custom creations, and it works out really cheap if you offer them copyright of the finished items. As Matt says, “Now anyone can download and print for less than a cup of coffee from”

PS:  The gnarly old trees you can see on either side of the meeting house in some of the photos are also Printable Scenery items!

[Photos in this article all by Matt Barker from Printable Scenery.]


32 thoughts on “World’s first 3D-printed Maori pa completed

    1. The plants come from a number of sources, Scott – some are paper flax bushes, some are parts of an old Xmas decoration.

      Or did you mean the rough flock on Matt’s table?

  1. Inspired by photos of your NZ project I have just finished my own version using the Empress figures. The PA looks great, presumably I need to find a local 3D printer to create the pieces from the downloadable files. BTW saw the new sculpt Eureka Maoris at CANCON. Nothing like their earlier effort and very Empress compatible. All hand weapons at present. Regards Alan in Canberra

  2. How much did you pay for the printing of each section please? A quick google search and I’m concerned that I’d need to pay £12 per print at a local firm in Yorkshire, UK

        1. Hi chris I wouldbe very intetested to know what the uk price would be as would love to do what arteis has

          1. Where a bouts are you based? I’m pleased to report that two York war gamers own a printing business with… a 3D printer! They’ve quoted me a price and are test printing a few pieces. I’ll not hold them to a price until they’ve costed it as I don’t want them dong it for nothing! The price discussed is £2/piece. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

    1. I think I’ve got about a dozen of each size of fencing, plus three buildings and the gateway. That makes a pretty impressive sized pa. You could get away with a lot less!

  3. That sounds great Roly, I may look at similar sized Pa as have 120 Maori !!! thinking along similar lines to yours but perhaps digging in rifle pits behind the fences using polystyrene as a base



    1. I’m not sure, Rewa, as they were done over a period of time as the company came up with new items. But each wall unit isn’t really that big.

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