Air New Zealand gifts Tohu Reo pounamu pin to Te Papa

The original pounamu prototype for the Tohu Reo pin was gifted to Te Papa in a ceremony today on the museum’s marae, Rongomaraeroa.

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.

Tohu Reo pounamu pin, 2018. Te Papa

Matariki Williams, Curator of Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa, 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,” Ms Williams said.

“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.”

Ms Williams said that Te Papa’s collections range from ancient objects to those from modern life.

“We are really excited to receive this contemporary taonga into the Te Papa collection as it speaks to the enduring presence of te reo in the lives of New Zealanders,” Ms Williams said.

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,” Mr Johnson said.

“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.”

Manuhiri arriving on Rongomaraeroa Marae with Tohu Reo taonga, 2018. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

Notes to editors

About the Tohu Reo

Now under the guardianship of the Māori Language Commission, the Tohu Reomay be worn by any te reo speaker who passes the necessary fluency testing. Speakers from eight New Zealand organisations, including Air New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, ASB and Auckland Council currently wear the Tohu Reo.

The Tohu Reo was developed by Air New Zealand and the Māori Language Commission and designed in collaboration between Designworks and expert carver Clive Fugill of the globally renowned NZMACI at Te Puia, Rotorua.

The pounamu prototype of the pin, which has been gifted to Te Papa, was carved by Stacy Gordine.

The pin has won numerous awards including: Te Tohu reo Māori – Huia te Reo (Supreme Award) at the 2016 Tohu Reo Māori, Māori Language Awards.

Dropbox images

The prototype pounamu Tohu Reho carved by Stacy Gordine and gifted to Te Papa. Photo by Designworks

Taharākau Stewart Pou Tikanga Rongowhakaata, delivering whaikōrero on Rongomaraeroa Marae to acknowledge the Tohu Reo taonga and the manuhiri, 2018. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

Manuhiri arriving on Rongomaraeroa Marae with Tohu Reo taonga, 2018. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa

Media contacts

Ellie Campbell, Senior Communications Adviser, Te Papa, 029 601 0120,

Air New Zealand Communications, +64 21 747 320,, Twitter: @AirNZMedia