The Ngati Porou leader, statesman and scholar Sir Apirana Ngata initially mooted the concept of a Māori mark of quality and authenticity art in 1936.
It was further discussed by the New Zealand Māori Council in 1964, but not brought to fruition until 1997, under the direction of then Te Waka Toi Chair Elizabeth Ellis. Te Waka Toi did not work in isolation. A team of established Māori artists Hirini Melbourne, Robert Jahnke, and others, led by the eminent Tohunga Whakairo, Master Carver, Dr Paki Harrison devised the design of the Tohu (the Mark). Margaret Te Hiko was the Te Waka Toi Creative NZ Administrator of Toi Iho in those early days and Muriwai Ihakara was the Te Waka Toi Creative NZ Maori Manager.
It took five years to develop Toi Iho and register it as a legal trademark. During that time there were a series of workshops, gatherings and important national consultation hui with artists and communities in many parts of the country. As a result Te Waka Toi gained the approval and confidence of Maori to create Toi Iho as the national mark of quality and authenticity for Maori culture. Toi Iho was eventually launched in 2002 in Auckland and was managed by Creative NZ until 2009.
There has been somewhat of an hiatus for Toi Iho since that time but the trustees of the Toi Iho Charitable Trust are determined to continue working for the benefit of Toi Iho Maori art and Maori artists.
Trustees of the Toi Iho Charitable Trust 2021:
Elizabeth Ellis CNZM JP, Ngāi Tane, Whanau ā Takimoana, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kuta, Ngapuhi Chair Toi Iho Charitable Trust
Professor Dr Sandy Adsett, MNZM JP MMVA, Ngati Pahauwera, Ngāti Kahungunu
Margaret Te Hiko, Senior Policy Analyst, Ngāti Wairangi, Ngāti Raukawa
Moana Maniapoto, MNZM LLB Laureate AFNZ, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa
Professor Robert Jahnke, ONZM Ngai Taharora, Te Whanau a Iritekura, Te Whanau a Rakiroa o Ngāti Porou
Associate Members 2021: Elizabeth Harte, Ngahiraka Mason, Associate Professor Ngarino Ellis, Dr Moana Jackson, Dr Benjamin Pittman, Dr Arapata Hakiwai, Nigel Borell, Tim Melville.
Toi Iho TIFF meeting: (L-R) Elizabeth Ellis, Carin Wilson, Aroha Mead, Margaret Te Hiko, Manos Nathan, Moana Maniapoto, Maui Solomon, Bob Jhanke
Toi Iho hui – Herenga Waka Marae, Victoria University
Caption: (L-R) Back row: Norm Heke, Suzanne Tamaki, Blain Te Rito, Gabrielle Belz, Gary Nicholas, Collen Urlich, Te Rongo Kirkwood, Professor Robert Jahnke, Manos Nathan, Carin Wilson, Jacob Scott, Maree Mills, Stacy Gordine, Chris Bailey
Front: Unknown , Wena Tait, Wendy Whitehead , Margaret Te Hiko, Elizabeth Ellis, Cherie Waititi, Ata Te Kanawa, Kahu Te Kanawa, Aroha Mead, Ngaahina Hohaia.
June 2001 Te Waka Toi, Creative NZ
Caption: Toi Iho Whanau (L-R Standing) Back row: Matire Ropiha, Ata Te Kanawa, Muriwai Ihakara, Kereti Rautangata, Riki Moeau, Dr Paki Harrison, Ata Papa, Professor Robert Jahnke, Toby Mills, Jacob Scott, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Manos Nathan
Seated: Elizabeth Kerr, Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, Elizabeth Ellis, Hinewai Harrison, Margaret Te Hiko, Moana Maniapoto.