Mua – Cultural Heritage

The Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai tohu and phrase have been adopted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua as its brand and logo.

The Heru tohu and brand

The phrases ‘Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai’ and ’Heru Hāpainga’ are ancient terms unique to Ngāti Whātua history. They reflect a recognised style of leadership particular to Ngāti Whātua. It was the practice of Ngāti Whātua leaders

to be at the forefront of travelling parties. Travelling around the vast tribal lands was a common and necessary occurrence due to the obligations of Ahi kaa, and the leaders of these Ngāti Whātua parties could be easily recognised by the heru adorning the top knot of their hair.

Today this tohu illuminates the ‘figurehead’ and leadership qualities for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua. As a brand, the heru symbolises the uplifted symbol of Ngāti Whātua tribal authority and esteem or mana – something uniquely Ngāti Whātua to draw pride from and aspire to.

The ‘heru’ itself symbolises the significance derived from our unique heritage, the importance of our unique environments (whalebone), and the collective cultural pride and aspirations of our people. The associated term ‘Heru Hāpainga’ reflects the work and efforts needed to hold the heru aloft. Hei Heru Hāpainga.

Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai kaupapa

The Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai kaupapa was formally launched five years ago because of the concern by Ngāti Whātua leaders about the poor state of Ngāti Whātua cultural identity. This kaupapa is ongoing and from time to time, when the opportunity arises, short-term targeted campaigns will be planned to add impetus to specific aspects of the overall Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai kaupapa.

The image above reflects a paradigm shift and evolution in thinking within Ngāti Whātua, from the first iteration designed and implemented for the initial series of cultural strategies in 2002-23, to the complete adoption of the Heru Hāpai concept as the brand identity for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua in 2006-2007.

The main difference in designs is the adoption of the ‘mata” in the current Rūnanga tohu. This mata symbolises the forward vision of the overall kaupapa, and the clarity of vision required to advance the improvement of life for Ngāti Whātua people through the revitalisation of culture and cultural identity.


Mā ngā taonga hei honohono tātou ki a tātou

HONO is an encouragement to demonstrate the sophistication and quality of thinking that our ancestors drew upon in the original creation and care of the taonga presented in this book. The challenge for us in our modern times is to represent these taonga with the dignity and understanding that our ancestors did in their team.

Hei Tīmatanga

Hono has been developed as part of the Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai strategies and in particular the Mua strategy (Cultural heritage and taonga) over the past five years. The main purpose of the Mua kaupapa is to reposition Ngāti Whātua heritage information and taonga firmly within Ngāti Whātua authority.

Mua Cultural Heritage Strategy

Our Mua Cultural Heritage Strategy has been designed to rediscover, recover and protect the cultural heritage information unique to Ngāti Whātua. The aim is to reconnect our people with their heritage and inspire them to build on this and apply it in new and innovative ways whilst protecting the integrity of the valuable legacy of our tupuna.