To Ross, all art and design reflects identity and his creative work draws inspiration from the landscape of Te Waipounamu (the South Island), where he was born and grew up, and the ancient rock drawings created by his tīpuna, the Waitaha people. To bring together the inspiration for the tohu he spent many days with Manawhenua representatives from Te Rūnaka o Arowhenua, Te Rūnaka o Moeraki, Te Rūnaka o Waihao, land owners and those working with the Te Manahuna Aoraki project.
The tohu acknowledges the Ancestors: the sky, water and land, the wind and elements, and the mighty mauka – Aoraki. In designing the visual identity for Te Manahuna Aoraki, Ross was inspired by the haumata tussock seen throughout Te Manahuna.
The colours are a reference to our creation narratives. The blue colour is a reference to Te Pō – the night and the potential that comes from the night. He references the crispness of the frost, an essential element in Te Manahuna, and its motivation as an invigorator. Keo – the shrill cry of the cold is inhaled, and oho – out of the depths, the long night’s stillness is roused.
From night comes the dawn – the hāpara, when the haumata tussock begins to shimmer with a golden glow. As night and day are woven together the echoing north-west wind begins to stir life in this land.
Oha te ora hau – Breath stirs new life.