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Toi Iho Maori Made Mark Launch

Toi Iho Maori Made Mark
and its companion marks
launched in Auckland

The Toi Iho Maori Made Mark, a promotional initiative recognising Mäori art and artists, was launched tonight (Feb 8th) at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tämaki. The initiative involves a registered trade mark that will denote authenticity and quality when attached to a Mäori artwork or performance.

A song, “Toi Iho”, to celebrate the launch of the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark, was composed by musician Hirini Melbourne and performed at the launch. Other performances were given by Moana Maniapoto and leading kapa haka group Te Waka Huia.

Part of a world-wide trend to distinguish the art of indigenous peoples, the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark initiative was developed over two years by Creative New Zealand through Te Waka Toi, its Mäori arts board. The initiative is aimed at the domestic market, international tourists and tourism interests and will be used by Mäori artists to market, sell and present their works.

Elizabeth Ellis, Chair of Te Waka Toi, says the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark is exclusively for artists of Mäori descent. In addition, there are two companion marks acknowledging cross-cultural ventures between Mäori and non-Mäori.

They are:
 the Toi Iho Mainly Maori Mark for groups of artists, most of whom are of Mäori descent, who work together to produce, present or perform works across artforms
 the Toi Iho Maori Co-production Mark for Mäori and non-Mäori artists and businesses working collaboratively to produce, present or perform works across artforms.

“Contemporary Mäori art is open to all sorts of influences,” Ms Ellis says. “These companion marks recognise cross-cultural influences, and the innovation and cutting-edge work that often results from such collaborations.”

The commercial benefits of the Mäori Co-production Mark were exciting, she said. A manufacturer, for instance, might collaborate with a Mäori designer to produce fashion wear on a large commercial scale while still maintaining the design’s artistic integrity. The Mäori designer would have to meet the Mark’s authenticity and quality requirements.

The result of extensive consultation, the actual symbols of the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark and its companion marks were conceived and designed by a group of senior Mäori artists led by Dr Pakaariki Harrison. At the launch, the full-colour design was presented and its mauri (spiritual essence) and values were explained.

“Toi Iho” refers to the essence of the Mäori art culture. It encapsulates its traditions and values, creativity and innovation, the preservation and sharing of knowledge through the generations, and an insistence on authenticity and quality.

Aroha Mead of Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry for Mäori Development, says the exploitation of the cultural works and knowledge of indigenous peoples is occurring on such a scale that the United Nations and other international bodies are focussing their efforts on developing protection standards.

“The Maori Made Mark has been developed to promote Mäori arts and artists in the global market, provide Mäori artists with a greater incentive to produce high-quality works and help maintain the integrity of Mäori culture,” Ms Mead says.

“The Mark also means that customers will be assured that when they purchase what they think is Mäori art, it actually is the real thing and not an import that’s been mass-produced in Southeast Asia.”

Te Waka Toi will be the kaitiaki (guardian) of the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark while it is within Creative New Zealand. A future goal is to transfer the Mark to an autonomous Mäori entity once it is well-established.

George Hickton, Chief Executive of Tourism New Zealand, says the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark
“is a selling point for New Zealand. Mäori culture is an important part of what makes New Zealand such a unique place in the world and the authenticity of what we can offer visitors is an integral part of this.”

According to Mike Tamaki of Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua, the success of the Tamaki Maori Village is proof that international visitors to New Zealand want authenticity.

“Tourists to New Zealand want to experience and buy authentic Mäori work,” he says. “Carvings can attract a premium of 30 to 100 per cent when hand-made by a Mäori artist. Stamping them with the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark could push premiums higher and also raise the standards of work.”

Te Arawa artist June Grant, also a retailer and leading figure in the New Zealand tourism industry, is constantly selling Mäori art offshore. She says the introduction of the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark will make a major contribution to the New Zealand economy.

“Mäori art generates huge foreign exchange for New Zealand,” she says. “This Mark is about integrity both for the artist and for the person wanting to buy authentic, high-quality Mäori art. It also means that Mäori artists using the Mark will be able to command a premium price for their work because they will have a standard of excellence recognised by galleries, retailers and art dealers.”

This comment is reinforced by Rod Mackenzie, General Manager of Marketing at Trade New Zealand, who says “brands do create value over time”.

The cost of developing the Toi Iho Mark is $831,000, including the $10,900 cost to design of the actual symbols. Other costs associated with the wide-ranging, two-year process to develop the Mark have involved: developing a licensing system for the Mark; developing policy and undertaking research; setting up a system and procedures to administer the Mark; marketing and promotion strategies to ensure the Mark gains profile and value; and consultation with Mäori artists.

The first application round for the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark closes on April 5. No application fees will be charged in the first year. Fees will commence in 2003. The Toi Iho Maori Made Mark will gradually appear in New Zealand retail stores from July 2002.

For further information please contact:

Reuben Wharawhara
Maori Communications Adviser
Creative New Zealand
Tel: 04-498 0727

Undine Marshfield
Communications Adviser
Creative New Zealand
Tel: 04-498 0725

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