The original pounamu prototype for the Tohu Reo pin was gifted to us in a ceremony on Rongomaraeroa marae today.
The Tohu Reo pin was created by Air New Zealand in 2016 to identify fluent te reo speaking cabin crew and encourage wider te reo use in daily conversation.
Worn as a lapel pin, the Tohu Reo represents the waha (mouth) of traditional carvings.
Matariki Williams, Curator of Mātauranga Māori, said the pounamu pin would become part of the national collection held in trust by Te Papa for all New Zealanders.
'This is a significant taonga Māori which helps raise the profile of Māori language. It draws on our carved histories and the intangible nature of te reo Māori, a language that has seen decline, and is now in the process of revitalisation.'
'We are really excited to receive this contemporary taonga into the collection as it speaks to the enduring presence of te reo in the lives of New Zealanders.'
Air New Zealand cultural development specialist Henare Johnson says many international visitors have their first experience of te reo while onboard Air New Zealand aircraft.
'The Tohu Reo is a small pin with a big mission: to preserve the language for future generations. Air New Zealand is working to weave Māori culture more deeply into the fabric of our business and we’re honoured a pin first developed for our people has become part of Te Papa’s collection.'
As well as the pin prototype, Air New Zealand gifted items from the design process including prototype drawings, one of the pins worn by cabin crew, and the initial carving by Stacy Gordine of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI).
General Manager of the NZMACI Eraia Kiel, who spoke at today’s ceremony, said the Tohu Reo represents the importance of oral traditions in Māori culture.
'Every person that wears the tohu has a responsibility to do so with pride and purpose, to champion te reo Māori.'