Maori Made Mark launched

14 February 2002, New Zealand

Creative New Zealand’s 'Toi Iho' Mäori Made Mark, a registered trade mark denoting quality and authenticity for the nation’s indigenous creators, was launched last week at the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tämaki. Developed over two years by Creative’s Te Waka Toi (Mäori Arts Board) in consultation with artists and Mäori communities, 'Toi Iho' was launched amid celebrations including a song of the same name composed and performed by musician Hirini Melbourne, and a haka dance led by the group Te Waka Huia. Elizabeth Ellis, Chair of Te Waka Toi, commented at the launch that although the Toi Iho mark is exclusively for artists of Mäori descent, it will be accompanied by two further marks acknowledging cross-cultural ventures between Mäori and non-Mäori – the Toi Iho Mainly Maori Mark and the Toi Iho Maori Co-production Mark. 'Contemporary Mäori art is open to all sorts of influences,' Ellis commented, 'These companion marks recognise cross-cultural influences, and the innovation and cutting-edge work that often results from such collaborations.' She also alluded to the possible commercial benefits of the Mäori Co-production Mark, in which a manufacturer might, for instance, collaborate with a Mäori designer to produce fashion wear on a large scale, while still maintaining the design’s artistic integrity. The name 'Toi Iho' refers to the essence of Mäori art culture, encapsulating its traditions and values, creativity and innovation, as well as the preservation and sharing of knowledge, and an insistence on authenticity and quality. Aroha Mead of Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry for Mäori Development, says exploitation of the cultural works and knowledge of indigenous peoples is occurring on such a scale worldwide that the United Nations and other international bodies are focussing their efforts on developing protection standards. 'The Maori Made Mark has been developed to promote Mäori arts and artists in the global market, provide Mäori artists with a greater incentive to produce high-quality works and help maintain the integrity of Mäori culture,' she affirmed, 'The Mark also means that customers will be assured that when they purchase what they think is Mäori art, it actually is the real thing and not an import that’s been mass-produced in Southeast Asia.' 'Tourists... want to experience and buy authentic Mäori work,' says Mike Tamaki of Tamaki Maori Village in the city of Rotorua, 'Carvings can attract a premium of 30 to 100 percent when hand-made by a Mäori artist. Stamping them with the Toi Iho Maori Made Mark could push premiums higher and also raise the standards of work.' Te Waka Toi will be the kaitiaki (guardian) of the mark while it develops within Creative New Zealand, although a future goal is to transfer its administration to an autonomous Mäori entity. Inaugural applications for the mark's use close on 5 April, and it is expected that it will gradually appear in New Zealand retail stores from July 2002. Further information regarding Creative New Zealand and its programs is available online at: