Special Group 171 Tū Ngātahi

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Stu Mallarkey, Sarah Shepherd, Arnya Karaitiana
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Heath Lowe
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Rory Gallery, Hugo Parcell, Sam Hall, Janet Hale, Madeleine Smart, Casey King, Carolyn Ihaia, Gavin Le Claire
  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Arvid Eriksson
  • Client
    Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao


For international students in NZ, the pandemic has been challenging. Being away from family and dealing with lockdowns, isolation and closed borders has been stressful and unsettling
for all in this community.

For Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao, with its intrinsic values of inclusiveness, Kaitiakitanga and Manaakitanga, this was not an acceptable situation.

So, ENZ developed Tū Ngātahi – Stand Together, a kaupapa to assure international students that they are valued and supported members of our community and to celebrate the vital part they play in New Zealand culture.


At the heart of Tū Ngātahi is a physical pounamu, the central motif of the initiative and a physical acknowledgment of the warm bond between Aotearoa and the many cultures who come here to learn.

The pounamu is a gift from Aotearoa to our international students. Its Pikorua Twist design is inspired by the pikopiko fern whose fronds curl around one another, symbolising connection and friendship.

Inspired by the original pounamu, we designed and created enamel pins as a symbol of support and friendship. ENZ distributed these pins to international students and industry representatives nationwide.

Pins are housed in packs containing two pins. Recipients are asked to wear one and gift one to a friend, further illustrating our support for each other.

An accompanying film documented the crafting of the pounamu, acknowledged our international students and explained Tū Ngātahi to ensure all international students felt the support of Aotearoa.


It was important we work with the right stakeholders to ensure that Te Ao Māori was appropriately represented at every stage of development.

Ed Tuari, ENZ’s Kaitohu Matua Māori, supported our naming process, developing Tū Ngātahi in consultation with Māori language proponent and translator, Te Haumihiata Mason.

Ed also consulted on our use of symbol, resulting in the use of the Pikorua Twist pounamu design as our motif.

The pounamu was carved by Ngai Tahu-registered carver, Dean Taylor. Ed facilitated this partnership and joined us to film the pounamu being crafted.


During a once-in-a-lifetime event, Tū Ngātahi gave the education community a unique way to express solidarity with vulnerable international students in Aotearoa – a physical symbol of NZ’s care and kindness to our guests.

To support this emotive gesture, ENZ quickly pivoted its online platform, NauMaiNZ, to provide practical support in the form of useful COVID-19 information specific to international students.

For Tū Ngātahi to be an effective demonstration of support, we worked closely and collaboratively with ENZ and the broader education community, asking organisations to demonstrate support by wearing and sharing pins, and sharing the video and assets.

To date, 20,000+ pins have been shared, with requests for more coming through weekly. Pins have been spotted at international press conferences and the national news. The education community warmly supported the kaupapa online, sharing the video with messages including ‘This is love’ from a Colombian student, and ‘Just awesome’, from Meng Foon, Human Rights Commissioner.