Today, as the country celebrates Māori Language Week, Air New Zealand is launching the tohu which will be worn as a lapel pin by Air New Zealand employees who are fluent in te reo Māori and choose to wear it.
More than 30 languages are spoken by employees in the airline’s global network and these Air New Zealanders can choose to wear a pin representing the language they speak. Going forward customers will also be able to identify Air New Zealand employees who speak te reo fluently.
The tohu, designed by expert carver Clive Fugill at the globally renowned New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Te Puia, is inspired byte reo ō Aotearoa and its distinct form references the waha or the mouth piece in traditional Māori carvings.
The tohu will be rolled out to Air New Zealand cabin crew in the coming months before being introduced to other areas of the business. It is hoped the move will also inspire more employees to learn the language and help preserve Māori culture while showcasing it to visitors onboard.
Air New Zealand Cultural Development Manager Andrew Baker says the tohu is a reminder to all New Zealanders that we must work together to preserve te reo Māori for future generations.
“We’re very proud to see our people wearing the tohu while speaking the Māori language and supporting the culture onboard. As the national carrier we understand we have a significant role to play in protecting Māori heritage and ensuring the future of te reo Māori is a big part of that.”
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori Chief Executive Ngahiwi Apanui says the intention is for the tohu to be embraced by the wider community over time.
“We are focused on preserving and ensuring a bright future for te reo Māori for all New Zealanders. We would love to see other organisations and community groups embrace the tohu so it becomes synonymous with te reo Māori speakers throughout the country.”
Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori will be the guardian of the tohu which will be awarded to eligible te reo Māori speakers who meet the organisation’s criteria for fluency established by their Whakamātauria Tō Reo Māori (Level Finder Examinations).