The Wai Research tohu was created by Ben Thomason (Ngāti Raukawa) to represent the mahi that each kaimahi (worker) demonstrates within the research field.
The lines that run through the design of the tohu are a representation of whakairo (carving) used in traditional Māori times to mark down stories, information and important events. The relation of traditional whakairo and the kaupapa of Wai Research is synonymous.
To look deeper into the tohu, it is broken into 3 parts. The left side whakairo, the Wai Research rangatira and the right side whakairo. Each segment has an important meaning to the overall composition of the tohu.
The left side whakairo has three distinct curves carved out, each of which represents different time markers for research. Research pulled from the past, research being done in the present and research for the future.
The right side whakairo is comprised of three distinct curves which represent the influences within the research field. The first curve represents Te Hunga Mate – those that have passed on and left behind the impacts of their work; the second curve represents Te Hunga Ora – those that are still living and all that they do to influence research; the final curve represents Te Taiao – the natural environment and the influence that ones surroundings can have on outcomes within research.
At the centre of the design, there stands a rangatira (chief). The rangatira represents leadership within the research field. The figure is holding a kete – “Aronui”, one of the three kete matauranga within Māoridom. This kete is said to hold the knowledge of the living world that surrounds us – one of the greatest tools used in research.
The tohu stands for all the research team is, does and will continue to do – carve its way into the world through the hard work of each kaimahi.