Our Story

The evolving story of the ‘creative rockpool’

Our Story

The evolving story of
the ‘creative rockpool’

The name Toi Āria, gifted to us by Ngataiharuru Taepa, Kaihautu Toi Māori, continues to grow in meaning as we move into different areas of work and experience. Toi Āria translates literally from te reo as ‘tidal pool of creativity'. We have grown to understand our name and tohu as a ‘creative rockpool’ — a positive expression of practising and celebrating people-centred and participatory processes of designing positive change.

Toi is generally the term used for creativity and art but in this instance also refers to excellence and permanence — those things that are constant and essential when engaging in design for public good. Things such as trusted relationships, inclusivity, the voice of lived-experience.

Āria refers to multiple ecosystems working together and responding to the ongoing changing environment. This is meaningful to the work we do connecting to distinct communities of identity, experience and need. We creatively support those communities to discover how their distinctive selves can be better recognised and served by policy, services and actions which might originate within or outside of their rockpool.

This describes ‘what’ we do. But more recently, our work with partners and communities (and particularly our work with Māori partners) has challenged us to interrogate and develop this metaphor further. As a predominantly non-Māori entity working within a university committed to demonstrating authentic leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand as it upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we think it's important to declare the values that we hold, and wish to be held accountable for, by the people whose rockpools we are privileged to visit and learn from.

Toi Āria recognises and supports the distinctive identities and rights to self-determination of all individuals, whānau and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand and elsewhere.

We believe that all individuals, whānau and communities have a right to equitable access and outcomes when considered alongside others in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Respect and equality
In partnering with organisations, whānau and individuals, Toi Āria commits to actively learning — and enacting with their guidance — protocols and principles they work by, in order to establish a trusting, mutually enhancing and enduring relationship.

Acknowledging the generosity (and often, vulnerability) of individuals, whānau and community of Aotearoa in sharing their experience and expertise, Toi Āria commits to partnering responsibly to make sure that the resulting insights can be translated into tangible benefits, led by and for those people whose insight made positive change imaginable and therefore possible.