RUN 9 Our Wairua, Our Stories

Toitanga 2021 Credits
  • Creative Director
    Raymond Otene McKay
  • Design Director
    Laura Cibilich
  • Team Members
    Maria Philp, Russell Hooton-Fox, Brianna Smith, Ariana Stone
  • Contributors
    Assembly, Chris Sisarich, Mark Easterbrook, Vinnie Carter, Lance Ngata, Matt von Trott, Matt Wilson, Elliot Stronge, Craig Speakman, Clare Bone, Helen Naulls, Marty Ward, Nick Sears, Sam Harris, Greg Nalder, Adam Martin
  • Client
    Rotorua Economic Development

Rotorua Economic Development needed a unique, creative solution to convey a stronger destination story to uplift the wairua of the people who live, study, invest and work in Rotorua, as well as those wanting to visit. They wanted it to speak primarily to Rotorua locals, who need to regain a sense of pride in their home.

We needed to do something different to cut through the noise of other destinations marketing and encourage locals and from a wider perspective, the people of Aotearoa, to see Rotorua in a new way.

We know that Rotorua’s unique qualities come from within – from the stories of tangata whenua. We wanted to put these people in the centre of our pūrākau. We wanted to showcase the rich culture that makes Rotorua unique from a te ao Māori perspective. We wanted to show the wairua and mana of the people – literally. And we wanted to share these stories with the people of Aotearoa in an authentic and engaging way.

So to whakatuarā the stories of the people, we decided to visualise their kōrero. Through sound responsive software technology we developed specifically for this campaign, we created unique visuals of each person’s voice – showing their true wairua and āhua.

Huge consideration was taken into account when approaching the design aspects of the brief from a Te Ao Māori perspective. Not wanting to be specific to any single iwi or hapū, and with pūrākau differing between them, we drew upon Rotorua’s close links to the taiao for the design of the visuals generated. As part of our extended team, we worked with a specialist whakairo artist, who studied his craft at the NZ Māori Arts & Crafts Institute. An expert in his field, along with our client Haydn Marriner from Te Arawa. With this new whakaaro of building an aesthetic our tupuna would have once done 800 years ago. These were inspired by the ngahere – referencing tree rings; ngāwhā – referencing geysers and boiling mud; and the rohe significance with iwi and hapū – drawing the red from Te Arawa.

The campaign (which is still running) features 13 Rotorua locals, primarily those who whakapapa Māori, each sharing their own pūrākau. The concept allowed these locals, with the aid of the sound responsive software, to be the storyteller and artist with the individualised designs created by their kōrero. These unique designs were rolled out across an array of collateral including digital ads, print ads, street posters and billboards using the kōrero-designed graphics.

This kaupapa pushes the boundaries and explores the fringes of meaning and identity, creating a beautiful and memorable campaign while lifting the wairua of the people.