Te Tumu Toi - The Arts Foundation — 11.09.17

For Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week, we would like to share with you the story of Te Tumu Toi, the Te Reo name gifted to us.

In 2005, Executive Director Simon Bowden, and then Governor of the Arts Foundation, the late Jonathan Mane Wheoki, met with Pakariki Harrison the day after Paki’s Icon Award presentation. During the conversation, Paki gifted the Arts Foundation our name in Māori. “By the way”, he said, “Te Tumu Mahi Toi, that’s your name." The Foundation was honoured to accept this gift and we have used the name ever since.

'Te Tumu Mahi Toi' simply translates to 'The Foundation Working for the Arts’.

In 2015 Trustee and Laureate, Derek Lardelli, took a closer look at the name and its meanings. Derek considers the word ‘Mahi’ not crucial as working for the arts is implicit in the name. Derek explained the word Tumu means a foundation post on the land and a mooring point for a waka. In our case it is a foundation post or mooring point for the arts.

He said Tumu are the most important posts from the palisade to the meeting house, they go deep into the land like a taproot. They give us a place to stand and protect us. On water the Tumu is the place from which to set sail, to plot a journey from, but to always remember where you came from to guide your journey.

Derek also says that a Tumu Whakarae is a significant leader and that the Arts Foundation is honouring Tumu Whakarae in the arts.

Our name inspires us in our steadfast endeavour to be there with artists, like whanau, on their varied paths, and to celebrate artists as great New Zealanders. It reminds us that we are creating a place to stand for those who believe the arts are essential to our lives, to our story. Standing together we are strong, moored to the Tumu, returning to the Tumu.