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Axing of toi iho brand a backwards step

22 October 2009 Media Statement
Axing of toi iho brand a backwards step

The Government’s decision to scrap the toi iho trademark for Maori artists is a sad, silly and backwards cost-cutting move and raises further questions about its understanding of the benefits of promoting the “Maori edge”, say Labour MPs Steve Chadwick and Kelvin Davis.

“The toi iho trademark was established under the Labour Government to recognise and promote Maori art and artists - and because it was acknowledged that this would also produce economic benefits to New Zealand through the tourism benefits it would create,” says Steve Chadwick.

“The trademark assured buyers they were purchasing quality and authentic New Zealand made art, not cheap imports or imitations.

“Yet today we learn that Creative New Zealand (CNZ) is scrapping the brand, in an attempt to save a meagre $320,000 a year.

“Tourism Minister John Key and Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson should be ashamed. If, as CNZ admits, it may not have done enough to push the brand, then more effort should have been put into this – not into abandoning the trademark altogether, Steve Chadwick says.

“There is growing international and domestic interest in Maori art, which needs to be preserved and promoted. The trademark provided an ideal vehicle to promote New Zealand on the international tourism market and stimulate employment opportunities,” Kelvin Davis says.

“Millions of dollars are being spent promoting the Rugby World Cup and the Minister of Tourism should know that the unique features of Maori art and culture will play a critical role in attracting the 70,000 tourists expected for this event.

“This is exactly the type of event which will benefit from toi iho and ensure tourists get the indigenous experiences they seek. It would also help the trademark flourish. Yet the Prime Minister is allowing this initiative to be dumped to save a few dollars. This is not aspirational, this is plain short-sighted, “Kelvin Davis says.

ENDS

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