Clemenger BBDO Wellington

Trails of Taonga

The Ngā Aho Award is the result of a partnership between the Designers Institute and Ngā Aho, the national network of Māori Design Professionals. It recognises work that reflects a clear understanding of our indigenous culture, our heritage and our sense of place.

It’s a celebration of whakawhānaungatanga (relationship development) and kanohi ki te kanohi, pakahiwi ki te pakahiwi (meeting face to face and working shoulder to shoulder) in meaningful relationships with clients.

In this case, you might have expected that the sobering statistics underpinning the brief written by the Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki might have precluded a delightful design solution.

The project’s aim, put simply, was to get people in the community to help at-risk tamariki, in any way possible.

The messaging tool the designers sought was found hidden in plain sight: the voices of care-experienced kids and the “amazing stories about people who'd helped them and made a difference in their lives”.

Clemenger’s strategy was simple: treat these stories as taonga and use them to develop physical precious objects that could be shared heirlooms to be sent out into the community to recognise positive contributions.

The new taonga, carved by sculptors with requisite mana and imbued with the children’s stories, take the form of a tohu with tamariki at the centre who are protected and encircled by layers of family, whānau and community.

They are powerful tactile objects, symbolic of the deep gratitude the children feel towards those who helped them and, as well as being a symbol of thanks, and a motivation to others to help more.

As each taonga is passed from hand-to-hand their mana grows, and all these moments are recorded and shared to encourage the generation of new stories, ensuring a continuing cycle of goodwill, “trails of well-being wherever they go”.