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Maori Trademark closer to new roll out

23 February 2012

Maori Trademark closer to new roll out

TIKI – the entity charged with managing toi iho: the Maori trademark of quality and authenticity is a step closer to accrediting qualifying users after board members met at Te Putahi a Toi - the School of Maori Studies, Massey University last week.

TIKI board member, artist/designer, Jacob Scott, described the alignment of the toi iho discussions with comments by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples’ on the review of the Maori contribution to NZ Inc. the very next day as “perfect timing, we’re clearly on the same page and toi iho as an established Maori Trademark for authentic quality arts, culture and design is well positioned to contribute to the move forward,” said Scott.

Charged with leading TIKI’s strategic plan, Scott says the 10 year old trademark that use to sit under the umbrella of Creative NZ, now has the opportunity to revisit its goals and clarify its philosophy, criteria and purpose. “The world has changed, toi iho has to be able to interface internationally, toi iho needs to be in a space where we have to be commercially viable and work with those who currently carry the cultural collateral to help provide that dimension to NZ Inc”

While details of the Government led NZ Inc initiative are not yet clear, in addressing the Wellington launch of the Maori contribution to NZ Inc, Dr Sharples said “overseas markets, and international visitors to New Zealand, are increasingly receptive to the cultural distinctiveness inherent in indigenous products and services. Maori goods and services are unique. Not just in the design or the materials, but in the way we do business. We are in a new era of business and people today want to know the story behind their product – they want to know its whakapapa (heritage).”

For fellow TIKI board member and accomplished artist/designer, Carin Wilson, Dr Sharple’s statements were much appreciated, claiming recognition of the Maori art form in New Zealand has never been adequate. “Arts funding in New Zealand has been unfairly apportioned to individuals outside the Maori art form, toi iho should have equality in this area because toi iho is a vital vehicle for the indigenous art form both here and internationally,” says Wilson.

Professor Sandy Adsett and musician and singer Moana Maniapoto who have vast experiences in international and indigenous activities and are also TIKI Board members and concur they see great possibilities for toi iho artists in world forums.

But identifying the upper echelon of Maori artists who will have to prove their whakapapa (heritage) to qualify their authenticity and high quality of work to use the toi iho trademark, will largely be the responsibility TIKI ‘s assessment panel, led by Professor Robert Jahnke. He says there will be strict guidelines around the qualifying criteria for artworks but the scope of application was relatively broad and would encompass visual, performance, music, drama and literary arts.

TIKI Trustee and Chair, Elizabeth Ellis says the progress made since negotiating the management of toi iho with Creative NZ in 2010 has been steady and significant considering the circumstances. “Members of the TIKI Board are working voluntarily with little budget but Its great to have our website up so people now have a reference point and an idea of who we are, and what we’ve been doing. I am as committed to toi iho as I was when we began developing the concept in 1995, toi iho remains a brilliant and unique initiative for Maori. It has mana of its own and fits the cultural model referred to by Hon Dr Pita Sharples,” said Ellis.


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