Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. As a Māori company, we have a strong spiritual connection to the land, to our culture and a tradition of kaitiakitanga, guardianship of our natural resources.
Tohu is committed to conserving the environment and investing in industries that will continue to provide for our owners for many generations to come. Our participation in the wine industry reinforces our values and our vision for the future. It is also our way of promoting Māori culture to the world.
Our Tohu branding includes a number of elements that pay tribute to our culture and what we treasure as a Māori organisation. These include traditional Māori art forms, genealogy and our land.
In Māori culture, the koru or spiral symbolises growth, life and the natural world. The koru featured in our new branding comes from the painting He Mihi Aroha ki a Koe by renowned Māori artist Sandy Adsett. This beautiful work was incorporated in the inaugural Tohu wines label.
Sandy Adsett's koru is a classical motif from the kōwhaiwhai depicted in his painting. Kōwhaiwhai is the ancient Maori tradition of painted patterns. These symmetrical designs decorate the rafters of the elaborately adorned whare tupuna—house of ancestors—and represent lineage, ancestry and the story of generations.
In the spirit of this tradition, Tohu celebrates this iconic spiral. It represents the growth of our company and the journey of our people from the past to today. This koru signifies our long-term intergenerational goals and has become our tohu, our signature.
The silhouette represents the mountain Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the spectacular backdrop to our Awatere Valley vineyard. One of the highest mountain peaks in New Zealand, Tapuae-o-Uenuku dominates the inland eastern skyline, standing at 2885 metres above sea level. In stormy weather the mountain is often framed by a double rainbow.
Legend has it that Tapuae-o-Uenuku is named after the god of rainbows, Uenuku, and dates back to the times when atua (gods) still roamed the earth. According to legend, a chief from the Rangitāne tribe sought his wife and child by climbing the rainbow of Uenuku to reach heaven: the sacred steps of Uenuku—nga tapu wae o Uenuku.
Carving is one of the most celebrated and recognised forms of Māori art. Historically, wood, greenstone and bone were used to create essential items to assist in catching, propagating and preparing food. Over time Māori developed the skill of carving to create elaborate and artistic objects, including jewellery, pou (carved posts), whare whakairo (carved meeting houses) and tekoteko (carved human forms). Powerful carvings found in the meeting house depict ancestors and their history, while pou whenua, strategically placed on the land, acknowledge and represent the relationship between Tangata Whenua (the people of the land), their ancestors and the environment.
Various types of surface patterns are adopted by carvers. One of the most common is rauponga, characterised by a row of notched chevrons. Rauponga is represented in the unique typeface used for Tohu, a tribute to the tradition of carving.