Special Group 141 Tū Ngātahi

Toitanga 2021 Credits
  • Creative Directors
    Stu Mallarkey, Sarah Shepherd, Arnya Karaitiana
  • Design Director
    Heath Lowe
  • Team Members
    Rory Gallery, Hugo Parcell, Sam Hall, Janet Hale, Madeleine Smart, Casey King, Carolyn Ihaia, Gavin Le Claire
  • 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 and closed borders has been stressful and unsettling for this community.

In response, Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) developed Tū Ngātahi – Stand Together, an inclusive initiative to assure international students that they are valued members of our community.

Our kaupapa looked to support international students and celebrate the vital part they play in the culture of Aotearoa.


The initiative’s identity was acknowledged, and a central motif was created in support of the story told.

This motif was designed to be shared as a taonga.

As such, its design and story was carefully considered aesthetically, physically, and with thought for our culture and all cultures participating in the initiative.


Inspired by the initiative, we designed and created wearable enamel pins as a physical symbol of friendship and connection between NZ and its international students.

These taonga are the heart of Tū Ngātahi; an acknowledgment of the warm bond between Aotearoa and the cultures who come here to learn.

The taonga’s design reflected the traditional Pikorua design, inspired by the pikopiko fern whose fronds curl around one another symbolising connection and friendship.

Using flat form, block colour and geometric shading we modernised this form to create a simple, powerful symbol.

Taonga were gifted to international students and industry representatives nationwide. An accompanying film acknowledged our international students and explained Tū Ngātahi to ensure all international students felt the support of Aotearoa.


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

Taonga were housed in packs of two. Recipients were asked to wear one and gift one to a friend, further illustrating support for each other.

To support this gesture, ENZ provided practical COVID-19 information specific to international students on its NauMaiNZ platform.



We consulted stakeholders to ensure that Te Ao Māori was incorporated at every stage of our tikanga.

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 Pikorua.


For Tū Ngātahi to be effective, it needed nationwide participation. We worked with ENZ and the education community to achieve this, asking organisations to show support by sharing the taonga.

This made it easy for students across NZ to access the taonga through the communities and institutions they were part of.

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