Extended Whānau 39 Co-Designing Poutokomanawa

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Tyrone Ohia
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Viv Teo, Courtney Petley, Rob Lewis, Holly Zeng, Jamie Bichan, Toaki Okano
  • Client
    The Southern Initiative
Judge's comments:

A clever and playful take on a report, creating a great system for metaphoric language. A progressive and standout piece of work in the category.


Co-Designing Poutokomanawa is a report from The Southern Initiative that documents their whānau centred design approach to revitalising the Manurewa Plunket Family Centre. The report documents the principles, process, challenges and learnings of the project. We were approached by The Southern Initiative to create a visually rich report that brought the content to life in an engaging way.

Poutokomanawa is the heart post or centre post in a wharenui. It connects earth and sky, and provides a strong, vital force and support system. For the family centre, people are the heart post that hold the space together. Inspired by these thoughts, our approach was to create a visual language that became the poutokomanawa for the report itself.

We designed a custom set of carved wooden blocks that act as a visual system to communicate the wide range of concepts within the report. On the cover, the blocks are arranged as a whānau heart post, and throughout the report these same blocks are rearranged again and again to create icons and diagrams for key information. The idea being that all the elements within the report can be extracted from the metaphor of poutokomanawa.

The blocks were crafted by hand and bring a warm playful touch to remind us of our tamariki. The bright red wood stain links back to te ao Māori and the vitality of the human element, and haehae grooves acknowledge the art of whakairo.

The layouts were physically arranged and photographed before being placed into the document. They also function as distinctive visual markers that are used in digital slides and presentations to underpin the reports key outtakes.