Designed by New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) tumu whakarae (master carver), Clive Fugill, the piece represents the waha or mouth piece in traditional Māori carvings. The aspiration is for the tohu to inspire more people to learn te reo, and in turn, help preserve Māori culture.
“With more than 30 languages spoken by employees in Air New Zealand’s global network, the airline has a strong history acknowledging other language speakers among its staff,” says Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean.
“The only way to represent te reo is through speaking, and now customers will be able to identify Air New Zealand employees who speak te reo fluently.
“The distinctive waha acts as a reminder to all New Zealanders that we must work together to preserve te reo Māori for future generations.
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) acts as the guardian of the tohu, awarding it to eligible te reo Māori speakers who meet the criteria for fluency.
“Advocacy for te reo Māori is hugely important to NZMACI and the waha tohu project provides another opportunity for the National Institute to serve Māori cultural survival and aspirations,” says NZMACI general manager, Eraia Kiel.More on the Air NZ Tohu