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The History of Toi Iho.

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. Later, in 1964, the New Zealand Māori Council raised the idea, but it was not until 1997 that Te Waka Toi Chair Elizabeth Ellis began the project in earnest. Led by the eminent Tohunga Whakairo/master carver Dr Paki Harrison, Te Waka Toi worked with a team of established Māori artists including Erenora Hetet, Manos Nathan, Hirini Melbourne, Kereti Rautangata and Robert Jahnke on 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 Māori Manager.



2001 – The Toi Iho, Te Waka Toi, Design Team.

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 Māori 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.

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.

Oct 2009 – Hui of Toi Iho after funding was disestablished and artists had been notified by Creative New Zealand.

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.


Oct 2010 – The determination to keep Toi Iho visible continues…

Toi Iho meeting:
(L-R) Elizabeth Ellis, Carin Wilson, Aroha Mead, Margaret Te Hiko, Manos Nathan, Moana Maniapoto, Maui Solomon, Bob Jahnke.

Since 2009 the visibility and indeed viability of Toi Iho has remained increasingly important, especially with challenges from the digitisation of Māori art which has made non-Maori in particular copy and misuse our art forms. Despite this, national and international recognition of Toi Iho artists has remained high, with the trustees of the Toi Iho Charitable Trust continuing to champion our artists and work for the benefit of Toi Iho Maori art and Maori artists.

Trustees of the Toi Iho Charitable Trust March 2023:

Elizabeth Ellis.CNZM JP. Ngāi Tane, Te Whānau ā Takimoana, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kuta, Ngāpuhi, Chair, Toi Iho Charitable Trust.            

Moana Maniapoto. MNZM, LLB. Laureate AFNZ. Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa.

Professor Robert Jahnke. ONZM. Ngāi Taharora, Te Whānau a Iritekura, Te Whānau a Rakairoa o Ngāti Porou.

Elizabeth Hauraki. Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou. Treasurer/ Fundraiser

Dr Sandy Adsett. MNZM, JP, MMVA. Ngāti Pahauwera, Ngāti Kahungunu.

Associate Members 2023:  Elizabeth Harte,  Dr Arapata Hakiwai, Nigel Borell, Tim Melville, Ngahuia Harrison, Karl Chitham.


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