Maori artists set on reclaiming Toi Iho Trademark

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We have heard through the kumara vine that artists met today to discuss the reclaiming of the Toi Iho Trademark from Creative NZ. At its inception Toi Iho was considered a great initiative and one which was world-leading cited globally as a model for other indigenous peoples to consider.

However, after seven years of government “managment” Creative New Zealand decided to no longer invest in managing and promoting the toi iho brand which denoted the quality and authenticity of Maori art. There are four trademarks, toi iho Maori Made, toi iho Mainly Maori, toi iho Maori Co-production and toi iho Licensed Stockist. In a statement released by Creative NZ they stated that “Creative New Zealand has become increasingly aware, through reviews, market research and artist feedback, that although there are artists who actively use toi iho to leverage their work, many more Maori artists are making successful careers without the need for the toi ih trademark.

In a paper by Dr Aroha Mead, Indigenous Property Rights specialist, entitled “Understanding Maori Intellectual Property Rights“, Mead explains that the Toi Iho Trademark was born “from 20-30 years of criticism by Maori artists of the lack of protection for their works, and the ever-increasing amount of Maori-design products that were produced offshore or by non-Maori artists for the tourism sector. The Mark enables artists to identify themselves as bona fide and quality Maori artists and enables tourists to purchase products with the full knowledge of their authenticity.”

The shift from a government run iniative and one run by Maori artists themselves means it is a “time for a new energy, new enthusiam and Toi Iho being managed by people who genuinely care about authenticy and quality of Maori arts and don’t just see it as another ‘job’.” says Dr Mead.

TangataWhenua.com fully supports this move and will help promote this important kaupapa. Mauri Ora!

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