May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori Reclaim Toi Iho Trade Mark

2 min read

At a meeting in Wellington on Monday (Dec 14), hosted by Creative New Zealand CE Stephen Wainwright and staff,
a collective of Maori artists reclaimed the responsibility to manage the future of the toi iho trademark.

toi ihoTM is about authenticity and quality and it needed a new group, with new energy, to take it over from
Creative New Zealand and rejuvenate it, says arts advocate, Elizabeth Ellis.

The outrage and adverse reaction from Maori and the general arts community following CNZs announcement
to disinvest in the toi ihoTM trade mark in September, forced Te Waka Toi, the Maori arts division of Creative NZ,
to facilitate Mondays meeting and accept continuance of the trade mark under a Maori owned and
managed entity, as a logical, if not grateful, alternative.

The late Sir Apirana Ngata initially mooted the concept of a Maori mark of quality and authenticity in 1936.
It was further discussed by the Maori Council in 1964, but not brought to fruition until 2002, under the guidance
of then Te Waka Toi Chair Elizabeth Ellis, a robust team of Maori artists headed by the late Dr Paki Harrison,
and a series of national consultative hui, significantly supported by the Governments arts body, Creative NZ.

Creative NZs decision to disinvest in toi ihoTM was based on its view that toi ihoTM had not delivered the economic
benefits to Maori artists, as envisaged.

Under the banner, Transition Toi Iho (TTI), the group includes elite Maori artists and toi ihoTM registered lifetime
users Manos Nathan, Carin Wilson, June Grant and Moana Maniapoto who were unanimously relieved to have
saved the trademark from its near demise, and equally defiant in its retention.

I refuse to give it (toi ihoTM ) back, said furniture designer Wilson who considers the trade mark an acknowledgement
and recognition from his peers that he highly values, adding, toi ihoTM is a source of pride and cultural identity
for Maori artists that we have strived to attain.

Acclaimed clay sculptor, Manos Nathan said he had experienced phenomenal kudos internationally while using
the trade mark and concurs with Wilson, while urging existing toi ihoTM artists, to continue using toi ihoTM despite
a letter issued by CNZ advising all registered holders are not permitted to legitimately use the toi ihoTM trademark
after February 2010.

The group, including Senior Lecturer, Maori Business at Victoria University of Wellington and regular UN conference
attendee, Aroha Mead, said Creative NZ representing the Crown had a Treaty obligation to actively protect Maori
cultural heritage, the decision to disband toi ihoTM without consulting the wide group of Maori artists involved in
its creation, or developing alternatives, was a giant step backwards…

The Transition toi ihoTM group plan to host a hui of Maori artists at Victoria University in March 2010, and anticipate
a transfer of toi ihoTM from Creative NZ, will occur by June 2010.

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