The challenge was to promote the exhibition, but primarily grab the attention of young New Zealanders, specifically 10-15 year old school children all over the country, with a powerful and even provocative campaign. It needed to connect with local iwi, schools, government, tourists and the man on the street.
We wanted to engage the public by using the faces of key leaders who signed each of the documents over a century ago.
Adding a hand holding out a quill (and pen) towards the viewer, made the images hard to ignore. We developed a campaign cursive typeface, based upon the century-old ink signature style of the historic documents, to compliment the strong, personal style of the painted portraits.
With only a few faded old sepia and black and white photos of our chosen Maori chiefs available, we wanted to represent the leaders in an honourable way. We referenced iconic realist painters, Goldie and Lindauer, who were famous for their portraits
of Maori in the late 1800’s.
Every stage of the Illustration development was authentically verified and co-designed from feedback received from living ancestors of Patuone and Te Rangi Topeora, or in the case of Kate Sheppard, women's suffrage historians. Through this co-design process, we ensured facial features were accurate, as well as their moko, tattoos, Huia feathers (symbols of rank) and appropriate colouring of the overall palette.The process was a joy, with the descendant of Patuone commenting during the process
“this is developing really well and I am very pleased with how it is emerging! I have a real sense of my tupuna being there!”
A Māori-Crown partnership, the integrity, collaboration and authenticity was essential to respectfully represent ancestors whose signatures continue to shape New Zealand today. Each document has equal presence within He Tohu, so the final illustrations using leaders that signed: Eruera Maihi Patuone - a Declaration, Te Rangi Topeora - a Treaty, and Kate Sheppard - a Petition had an equal balance across all media.
A signature is something that represents an individual’s identity and, when used to vote, signatures can change the identity of an entire nation.The signature style - personal, handwritten, authentic - was used in headline treatment across the campaign launch, promotional collateral and out-of-home media, complementing the engaging portraits of the leaders. In the early documents, faint pencil lines where marked up to indicate a grid showing people where to sign. This subtle embellishment is used around the headline typography to pay homage to the early structure of the documents. The typography celebrates the distinctive, powerful, individual form of the signature.
The final portraits created a personal invitation from the signer to the viewer to participate in the exhibition. The illustrations were given equal exposure across all the channels, which included outdoor billboards, posters, digital activity, He Tohu website and social, which saw many New Zealanders sharing and using the illustrations on their own social pages.
The images were met with wholesale approval from many related parties, from the descendants of those Māori chiefs we featured, and even other significant Māori leaders who now want portraits of their ancestors commissioned in the same style.