Paku gardening tools. Source / Top Rewards
A “contemporary reimagining” of two traditional Maori garden tools – designed especially for children – was among the winners of the Best Design Awards at Tāmaki Makaurau on Friday – the most prestigious event on the Australasian design calendar.
Product gold was won by Paku, a design studio – started by longtime friends Dr Johnson Witehira (Ngāti Hinekura, Ngāi-tū-te-auru) and James Prier – which combines mātauranga Māori with the latest technologies to “reimagine objects”. around us in a bicultural way”.
They won for their Paku Toki and Timo – ‘scaled down’ versions of Maori gardening tools – which are “a contemporary reimagining of two traditional Maori farming tools, designed for Maori tamariki to grow up with things that reflect who they are and where are they from.”
Paku, tamariki gardening tools. Source/YouTube
Witehira and Prier spent more than two years developing and prototyping the tools.
“In the first place, that meant asking Maori if they thought the project was good or not, and if they saw value in the tools we were looking to recreate.
“Early on, we brought rough prototypes to a number of Maori spaces including the kōhanga reo, wānanga institutions, Massey University’s School of Maori Studies and the Tāhuri Whenua Food Producers Association. Māori We have also provided the prototypes to a number of our Maori Design, Education and Agriculture Experts.
“Research response has been overwhelmingly positive, so with the support of our communities, we have begun to dive deeper into product development and refinement.”
Witehira and Prier say tamariki greatly influenced the design.
“As our products are designed for children, children were involved throughout the design process. We wanted to see how they reacted and used the different prototypes in different contexts. As our tools are scaled down versions of Maori gardening tools , these feedback loops greatly influenced the final product design.Our focus on tamariki also influenced our brand name, Paku, which translates to “small”.
Judges said Paku’s design evoked “a sense of wonder and learning, storytelling and adventure” and that they “loved the simple yet clever way the design of this toy was inspired by tools traditional Maori people to work the land while reimagining that story for today’s tamariki, giving them fun ways to learn the tradition and where our kai comes from.
“From the stylish and playful moldings to the whimsical product colors inspired by native New Zealand vegetables, Paku won over the judges.”