Tō Tātou Tuakiritaka | Pride in our identity

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The University of Otago’s new brand

For the first time in 155 years, the University of Otago is significantly changing its visual identity.

With the support of our community, following extensive consultation with staff, students and alumni, we are proudly adopting a new tohu (symbol) and changing our ikoa Māori (Māori name) on 1 May 2024.

Our official name will remain the University of Otago, while our current ikoa Māori will be changed from Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo to Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka. This new brand acknowledges the University’s shared heritage and whakapapa. It is one of many steps our institution aspires to take toward becoming a Te Tiriti-led university, as laid out in our strategy, Vision 2040.

Our new ikoa Māori

Our new ikoa Māori is Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka. This is a metaphor meaning A Place of Many Firsts, in education and academic achievement, research and student experiences.

This is a name that is unique to us and celebrates our special place in the world. Whakaihu Waka is literally the bow of the canoe that pierces the ocean, leaving a wake for others to follow.

It invites our students to be leaders in their chosen pathways, and role models for their families and communities.

Hear how Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka is pronounced below.

Our new tohu

The tohu draws inspiration from Ōtākou channel, in Otago Harbour, which brings life to and from the region – just as the University brings and shares knowledge across Aotearoa New Zealand.

It emphasises the importance of relationships, reciprocity and the transmission of knowledge between generations.

The University of Otago’s brand from May 2024. Long description.

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Our brand in te reo Māori

A te reo Māori version of the brand has been created with our te reo Māori name displayed in larger font. It will be used in spaces, communication and campaigns that directly celebrate or promote kaupapa Māori (Māori initiatives, language and customs).

The University of Otago brand for kaupapa Māori contexts. Description.

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What’s changing and when?

The phased implementation of the new brand will start with changes to marketing, communications, and digital channels, such as the University website, from 1 May 2024.

This includes public-facing University websites, main social media accounts, and University-level digital communications such as email headers and digital letterheads.

Templates for things like email signatures, PowerPoints, digital stationery and business cards will be made available. A staff toolkit to help with using the brand will be shared on 1 May.

Students will notice changes to channels such as the eVision student enrolment platform, Blackboard online student learner platform and the Otago student app.

Replacement of most physical signage and other assets will occur from January 2025, apart from one sign each on our Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington campuses, to act as the focal points for the University and wider community as we celebrate this significant occasion.

Our current Coat of Arms will remain in alumni publications, graduation certificates and ceremonies, and will be retained as part of the decorative features of our heritage buildings on campus. Our residential colleges, clubs and societies, and sports teams can continue to use the Coat of Arms.

Variations and elements of the Coat of Arms.

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Consultation process

The University undertook a five-week period of consultation with key stakeholders in March–April 2023, to seek their feedback on the Tuakiritaka proposals. More than 9,000 completed responses were received from alumni, staff and students.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed by the University supported the proposed brand as reflecting the University’s future direction. More than two-thirds supported both the English and te reo Māori version initially proposed.

Based on the findings of the survey, there can be a high degree of confidence that a broad cross-section of alumni, staff and students agree that the proposals align with Vision 2040 and reflect the future of the University.

There were concerns raised around a perceived loss of heritage, as well as accessibility of the designs, which resulted in the brand being refined.

A report was produced for the University of Otago Council, as they deliberated on the Tuakiritaka proposals, and includes a selection of feedback received during the consultation process. In the interests of transparency, it is published here in full, but please note that some language and sentiment may cause distress. 

Read the full Tuakiritaka consultation findings report.

As part of consultation, community members were recorded discussing elements of the Tuakiritaka proposals, captured in the video below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

See Frequently Asked Questions

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