Apr 18, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

3D printed Maori-inspired iPhone cases a huge hit on Facebook (+video +photos)

2 min read


It was always going to happen, and sooner rather then later. We dreamed of doing it once but of course were beaten to the punch so when we saw these pretty darn cool looking iPhone cases making the rounds on Facebook the other day (the post we saw had over 1.2K likes!), we wanted to know more.

The iPhone cases are designed by a company called Storm3D, the graphic designer also develops Polynesian-inspired work that can be used as tattoos, and laminated on a range of different surfaces (mugs, etc.)

But where they made by a Maori? Did Maori have any input into the designs, does there need to be? Sowe got in touch with the graphic designer who had the following to say:

Where are you from?

I’m a graphic/tattoo artist from Holland, inspired by the different tribal styles like the Maori/Kirituhi, Polynesian and Samoan. I’m not a wannabe Moko artist or pretend to be a native from Polynesia or New-Zealand.

Is there a deeper meaning to your work?

I create pieces by combining these shapes and styles into one aesthetic design, without any symbolism or story, it’s plain graphic art.These pieces are purely graphical and have NO specific meaning, story or symbolism.

What got you into the iPhone/Samsung phone/tablet cases?

A company named Polychemy.com asked me to do some Kirituhi/Maori style designs for their cases, it’s printed in 3d, a very new and great technique.


According to the website of Te Whariki Moko o Tokoroa a kirituhi was “put in place for the sake of non-Maori who find Moko designs attractive enough to want them tattooed into themselves. The simple fact is, regardless of what any non-Maori wearer would have you believe, non-Maori could never have Moko simply because of their ethnic and cultural difference from Maori. Hence kirituhi was put in place to help these people satisfy their desires without concern of offending Maori.”

Want to know more?

What you think whanau, cool with this kirituhi?

Maori Tattoos

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 9.39.12 AM

iPhone/iPad Mini Cases

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 9.41.37 AM

9 thoughts on “3D printed Maori-inspired iPhone cases a huge hit on Facebook (+video +photos)

  1. Is it wrong to find pathways in order for our tikanga to evolve into something else. Like some have mentioned, non-M?ori are using someones cultural heritage for economic gain, artistic development etc. If we as M?ori don’t want to be constantly offended, we need to start inhabiting those space and be part of the conversation, part of the development of our tikanga.

    Calling someone ignorant because they are adhering to a contemporary interpretation of kirituhi (yes kirituhi is a traditional custom-tirohia ngaa koorero moo Mataora), is wrong, far from it, they have at least done some research, in the pursuit of not being ignorant.

    At the end of the day, moko is derived from an art form, just like kowhaiwhai, raranga, whakairo, all have spiritual connections and cultural meanings, but are all still art. Non-Maaori with tattoos can never call it Moko, this has been established, as the meaning of Moko pertains to M?ori (as others have stated). While the meaning of kirituhi does specifically translate to that which is written on skin, has room to include the various uses of the designs themselves which would normally be drawn on skin, but has been drawn to the “skin” of other items.

    Hei aha atu, he whakaaro noa iho eenei 😀

    Not meaning to offend just like the waananga :

  2. Kia ora, each symbol has specific meaning, regardless of if it is for kirituhi or Ta Moko. Kirituhi has interpretations that are not linked to whakapapa, but still have meaning within each symbol, whereas Moko is specifically designed with the intended meaning around, to and from whakapapa. He has no excuse for saying it has no meaning, give it the respect and find out the meaning before using another cultures designs. Don’t care where he is from, likewise to Maori, if we use other cultures designs, than we must give the respect equally so to know what it means.

  3. Ko-Iwi Arts Ltd designed cases last year, check out this awesome mahi from a Maori artist. Support our whanau

  4. The moment you start using koru designs or ANY Maori derived design for that matter there is an inherent symbolism attached to it. ‘Kirituhi’ refers to designs on the skin not polyamide plastic. Ignorance is bliss. So what do Maori, Samoans and Tahitians do about it? Make our own and sell ‘our’ products to ‘our’ people and the world. There you go, found you fellas a new job! Thanks ao!

  5. Yes and no. love the design & the inspiration,the world is awash with people reaching out to native culture. It is simply pretty to most, but only the student will truly appreciate or comprehend the layers of the story told.That’s where the real magic lies.

  6. Looks Awesome, I’m sure they will get a lot of profit from them, If only some one from NZ had the nouse to do it first

  7. The designer said “I create pieces by combining these shapes and styles into one aesthetic design, without any symbolism or story, its plain graphic art. These pieces are purely graphical and have NO specific meaning, story or symbolism”. However, anytime anyone uses Maori designs they have meaning because they are Maori, because they have whakapapa to toi Maori, and a lineage of Maori artists who developed these forms. This ignorant work. Seems like you didn’t push this designer in your interview DigiMaori.

    1. Ae, Johnson but we are well aware of the kirituhi arguments which is basically what he is arguing, that his designs carry no specific whakapapa elements. Ae, it was an email interview and we will follow up 🙂 they on opposite time zones from us.

    2. This line of thought is quite strange, I dont agree with the argument that these patterns are exclusively maori or exclusively polynesian or exclusively whatever. That we as maori have some unique understanding of a pattern is ridiculous. Especially when applied to such an interpretive discipline as “art”. Further where does this interpretive understanding derive? Scholarly debate and conjecture, evidence and experimentation. I bet such interpretation would be completely foreign to the very people who used them 200 years ago. Add another 100 to that and you would have another interpretation not to mention a completely different representation of it. This artist and any other person who seeks to doodle something with even a remote appearance of being a maori design should not have to justify his use of such patterns by putting a cultural disclaimer on every piece he may make. In actuality this probably never even crosses his mind. To you “tuturu, culturally aware individuals” out there who claim some special understanding will continue to be irked by the so called misuse of our “taonga”. Unfortunately with the pace of the digital age there is nowhere in the world where these designs cannot be used. And no doubt when they turn upon the side of of a building or on the character of the latest video game we will be having the same meaningful discussion on cultural appropriateness that we’re having now.

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