Manatū Taonga: Innovating Aotearoa

24 Feb 2022

Te Urungi Innovating Aotearoa expresses balance between nature and navigator, science and spirit to reveal a new vision for the future of art, culture and heritage in Aotearoa.

The Cultural Sector Innovation Fund is delivered through a series of nationwide events called Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa. The name references the steering paddle of the waka hourua. This paddle guides these ocean-going waka, driving them towards their destination with stability and agility. The event series is a new approach to arts funding, helping creative New Zealanders turn their innovative ideas into reality, increasing sector sustainability and resilience, commercial opportunities and improving access and participation.

Kia rapahoe te uru, anō he matimati nō Tangaroa ā te Toi. When the blade of the steering paddle - Te Urungi - plunges into the water, it becomes the creative fingers of Tangaroa.

Te Urungi are two day immersive, workshop-style events where creators and innovators across Aotearoa are invited to harness their shared energy and challenged to develop bold and transformative ideas and consider the impact those ideas will have on their communities. Together they explore the innovation potential of their ideas in a supportive, collaborative environment, supported by kaiāwhina and experts.

Waka hourua expert, Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Raukawa, Te Arawa, Rongowhakaata) helped guide us through the story of Te Urungi to develop the visual identity. The aim was to understand how traditional knowledge provides insights into connections between nature and navigator, science and spirit; following the migrating Toroa and Tavake who are following the schools of Kanae, and being inspired and guided by kaitiaki star constellations and Tohorā.

We wanted to express the harnessing of two great energies in our creative process. So, we brought together Graham Tipene, a customary Māori design expert (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Haua) and Tim Hansen (Ngāti Pākehā) a contemporary artist and graphic designer to wānanga and co-design together.

An artwork was created to express the mana of our two great atua, Tāwhirimātea and Tangaroa, converging on te urungi (the paddle). These two motifs are able to be repeated or reflected, similar to kōwhaiwhai. Applied with spot uv across artworks and booklets they are always present, providing inspiration.

Overall, the design aims to express the way Manatū Taonga and the creative community come together through Te Urungi, much like the celestial and marine life represented in the visual artworks. The logo for Te Urungi brings all these layers together in a simple, bold identity. This shows the flexibility of mātauranga Māori to be expressed in customary and modern forms.

An actual mini urungi paddle was carved and taken across the country to wānanga. Animated content, plus print and digital campaign content ensures the story of Te Urungi is being told well, at the same time as inviting the creative community to join the journey in innovating Aotearoa.

Kia eke, eke panuku, eke Tangaroa e!


Client - Manatū Taonga - Mareikura Brightwell, Katie Brown
Tohunga Whakairo - Mātahi Brightwell
Expert Māori Artist - Graham Tipene
Creative Director - Johnson McKay
Design Director - Tim Hansen
Design - Niki Chu, Malachi McKay
Photography & Animation - Storm Smith
Account Director - Kerira Tapene, Tanya Smith

Best Awards 2021

Bronze - Design Craft / Illustration
Bronze - Small Brand Identity / Cultural
Finalist - Public Good Award
Finalist - Toitanga