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Tuakiritaka dawn ceremony image 940

The University of Otago’s new tohu (symbol) and new ikoa Māori (Māori name), Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka, was unveiled at a ceremony this morning.

Ka haea te ata  
Ka hāpara te ata  
Ka korokī te manu  
Ka wairori te kutu  
Ka horaina
He pō, he pō, he ao  
Nau mai te awatea
Nau mai ki Ōtākou whenua, ki Ōtākou takata, ki Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka  
Wahia te awa puta-i-tua
Ki te whenua taurikura o akitu e!

The University of Otago officially launched its new brand at a ceremony today.

It is a bold change for Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest university, with the introduction of a new reo Māori name and tohu (symbol), created in collaboration with mana whenua.

About 300 members of the University community and mana whenua gathered as the new signage was revealed on the Dunedin campus’ St David St plinth.

The name University of Otago remains but the reo name has changed to Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka – a metaphor meaning 'A Place of Many Firsts'.

The new tohu draws inspiration from Ōtākou channel, in Otago Harbour, which brings water, kai and life to and from the region – just as the University brings and shares knowledge across Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally. It emphasises the importance of relationships, reciprocity, and the transmission of knowledge between generations.

The University Council adopted the changes in July last year, following extensive stakeholder consultation.

From today, the University will use this brand in all communication and marketing. The traditional crest will continue to be used in ceremonial and some other settings. A phased roll-out of signage will begin in 2025. The cost of the change is expected to be $1.3 million.

Chancellor Stephen Higgs says the change is a visible marker on the University’s path to become Te Tiriti-led and the path to achieving the wider objectives in Vision 2040.

“It reflects both the history of the institution, and our shared vision for the future, as outlined in our strategic document, Vision 2040.

“There is work ahead to achieve our various strategic and operational ambitions, and the new brand is a clear signal of the type of institution we want to be – world leading in teaching and research, unique, nationally and internationally connected, and supportive of all our staff and students.

“The Council and I are proud to see the new brand taking pride of place on campus.”

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou upoko Edward Ellison says the symbol is a visual reminder of the commitment made by the University to become a Te Tiriti-led University by 2040.

“This is an important day, and as mana whenua we are very pleased with the journey we have undertaken alongside the University to reach this point.

“However, this is simply the beginning of that journey and I hope both the new tohu and ikoa Māori are daily reminders for students and staff on our campuses and in the wider community.”

The new brand was also revealed in a ceremony this morning on the Christchurch campus and will be revealed at an event on the Wellington campus later today.

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