Toi Iho is the unique registered Aotearoa New Zealand trademark of Maori quality and authenticity. It signifies Maori made. The Toi Iho Charitable Trust is the legal entity responsible for the support and promotion of high-quality creative work of Toi Iho Maori art and Maori artists.
The Toi Iho trademark was launched at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki in February 2002. Te Waka Toi, the Māori Arts Board of the NZ Government’s arts body: Creative New Zealand (the Arts Council of NZ) was responsible for the concept of a trademark and led the work on its establishment.
In 2009, a core group of Toi Iho supporters called Transition Toi Iho Foundation (TTIF) held meetings with Creative NZ and Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development) to discuss the future of Toi Iho, after the decision to remove funding for it was made by CNZ. Te Waka Toi and the original Te Waka Toi design group had consulted widely with iwi in 2000, and we regarded Toi Iho as our cultural property, belonging to Māori. We strongly disagreed with the decision to permanently disestablish Toi Iho and all the registered artists.
In 2010, TTIF participated in a hui at Te Herenga Waka Marae, Victoria University that was convened by Creative NZ calling for registrations of interest to manage and administer Toi Iho. No funding or resources were offered. The assembled artists and Creative NZ agreed that TTIF should take responsibility for Toi Iho.
In October 2010, TIKI – Toi Iho Kaitiaki Incorporated (a limited liability company) replaced TTIF as the legal entity and later, in 2013, the Toi Iho Charitable Trust was instituted in place of TIKI.
The Toi Iho Charitable Trust is now firmly established with more than 200 assessed and registered artists (14 AUGUST 2023) and is committed to maintaining a register of Toi Iho artists, supporting their high-quality creative work, protecting the intellectual ownership of tangible and intangible expressions of our culture, and advancing the cultural future of Maori as indigenous people.
The original Toi Iho video was produced by Te Waka Toi in 2002. The history of the establishment of the Tohu, trademark is told by some of the members of our Te Waka Toi design team, led by Tohunga Whakairo Dr Paki Harrison, Distinguished Weaver Erenora Hetet, Senior Pounamu and bone artist Hepi Maxwell, and Ngā Kaihanga Uku Senior Clayworker Manos Nathan.