Brand Explanation
Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust
October 4, 2022

A design collaboration with Rongowhakaata artists Ephraim Russel and 619 designers, Tama and Phila, in association with Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust.

Rongowhakaata iwi has a rich history, our stories are both many and varied. Our marae show an artistic diversity, that gives each one a certain uniqueness. We are a strong and diverse people, able to apdapt to any situation. Rongowhakaata himself was known for his unique ability to shapeshift. We want to showcase these traits in our new brand. Our new tohu is recognisable, unique, innovative, flexible and most importantly, Rongowhakaata.

Brand Launch video

Our tipuna Rongowhakaata had the unique ability to shapeshift, one form he took was that of the Kārearea. The idea of Rongowhakaata soaring high above our whenua, guiding us, leading us, is the inspiration behind our new logo.

Ka huri hei manu kia rere

A few years after the birth of Turāhiri and Rongowhakaata’s child Rongomairātahi, Turāhiri passed away. Uetupuke and Moetai, the sibblings of Turāhiri married Rongowhakaata. Uetupuke was with child, but did not want to share her husband, so she decided to leave with a party and headed towards Ōpōtiki. Rongowhakaata yearned for Uetupuke so he took flight to catchup to her. Uetupuke refused to return, but said if the child she carries is a boy, he will be named Rongopopoia.

Early 3D concept of our tohu

The meaning within the story behind our logo

Our tohu is a portrayal of movement through the sky, the shifting of feathers, swooping wings. The intrinsic nature of the kowhaiwhai has a rhythmic flow often reoccuring design.

The two kōwhaiwhai patterns explored in our tohu are Pitau-a-Manaia and Rua Kūmara.

Pitau is often rendered in positive form depicting naturalistic associations to the fern frond of manaia or Pitau-a-Manaia; Depicting the double spiral motif that engages both positive and negative spaces, Pitau is one of the earliest figurative representations found in kōwhaiwhai.

Kape Rua references the ceremonial planting and harvesting knowledge associated with kūmara, such as the arrival of the kūmara through our tipuna Hinehākirirangi, the stylistic nature of the pattern takes the form of a Rua Kūmara (Storage Pit) Kape being the impression left behind in the land.

A shapeshifting logo is a dynamic logo

One idea behind our tohu is to create a ‘logo system’, which is a graphical icon that can have endless variations. We have one shape that is always the same, a manu which represents Rongowhakaata. From this one shape we create a ‘logo system’ that can tell the many stories of who we are, where we are from and where we are heading. Our tohu therefore represents our ability as an iwi to shapeshift like our tīpuna Rongowhakaata.

With one mark we can show the many traits of Rongowhakaata the tīpuna and/or Rongowhakaata the people. When a new tohu is created by an artist, the artist will have a story and with the story we would come up with a name for the tohu e.g Rongo-te-rangatira.

Other manu stories

  • Rongowhakaata was also an expert in flying manuaute.
  • It is said that before the deforestration of Pipiwhākao and Rākaukākā, there were plenty of Kārearea soaring high. Now, the Kārearea is an endangered species.
  • Ruakapanga loaned his manu Harongārangi and Toingārangi to Pourangahua so he can bring the kumara to Aoteroa.
  • Tarakiuta and Tarakitai were celebrated for their manuaute flying. 


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