What is the most important thing in the world? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.
Kiwis are achieving incredible things on the world stage. Symbolically Kiwi is our chance to share and celebrate these success stories, because when they succeed, we all succeed.
It shows us that they're not that different from you and I. That we're all the same people, we all have our own struggles, and if they can do it - then YOU can do it.
Symbolically Kiwi was the largest interactive art exhibition in New Zealand in 2020. 1200 people attended the exhibition in person, and a further 100,000 engaged with the interviews and art exhibition online.
You can engage with Symbolically Kiwi by:
- Going through the Virtual Exhibition yourself (click here)
- Watching the Virtual Video Tour guided by MrGeometric
- Clicking on the art pieces themselves below to examine them further
Joseph Parker was proudly born and raised in South Auckland. He’s shown that, against all odds, we can rise up and achieve fantastic success on the world stage. Having to stumble and find his path with little direction in the beginning, Joseph hopes to make this journey easier for others going forward.
Joseph’s shape is an amalgamation of the WBO Heavyweight Title logo, and the necklace he wears around his neck. The square shapes represent a boxing ring, and we wanted to capture and display Joseph’s Samaon heritage.
Red leather. Joseph’s material represents the read leather you would find on his boxing gloves, and on the ropes of the boxing ring.
JessB had wanted to be a professional netballer her whole life. She reached her goal, but found it didn’t fulfill her as much as she would have hoped. She made the difficult decision to switch to a career as a rapper - where she’s finding enormous success and enjoyment.
JessB’s first EP was called “Bloom”, and sunflower imagery was everywhere in it. We wanted to capture this beautiful sunflow shape and represent the meaning of “blooming” behind it.
What material can represent musicians more than Vinyl EPs? We had to hand punch the individual circles out of Vinyl EPs and inlaw them into her art. Get up close to see the texture, and how the vinyl shimmers as it catches the light at various angles.
From a farm in Tokoroa, Nick left to China when he was 18. Living on a dollar a day - literally, he went on to build ZURU Toys. They are now the 6th largest toy company in the world, which employees 8,500 staff across 23 offices around the world.
Bunch O Balloons is one of ZURU Toy’s most iconic toys. They generated upwards of $100 million a year, bringing delight to kids all around the world. There are 35 balloons represented, as per the toy.
Yellow gloss acrylic. The yellow is clearly representative of ZURU’s strong brand colour. We wanted the material to represent the main material used within ZURU’s toys, whilst paying homage to their bright persona.
From a sheep and cattle farm in the west Waikato, to being a lecturer, to then becoming one NZ’s longest serving Prime Ministers. She had just a 2% preference rating in her first year as Leader of the Opposition- she went on to serve for 9 years. Helen is a fantastic example of what us Kiwis are capable of achieving.
Helen’s shape is an amalgamation of her work for the UN and NZ. The UN Logo has been abstracted, with the laurel wreaths replaced with ones made of silver ferns.
Helen’s material is recycled plastic milk bottles, to represent her focus on sustainable development.
As a child growing up in Invercargill, Peter was told that his aspirations were “unreasonable” and that he should go work at the alumnium smelter. Now Peter has pioneered a space industry within NZ - making us the 4th most frequent country to launch rockets into space.
Peter’s shape has been borrowed from the Rocket Lab logo. It’s the orbitals of an atom, which represent the physics involved in their endeavour. It’s also the orbitals of satellites, which they can put into orbit 95% cheaper than incumbent methods.
Carbon fibre. When we visited Rocket Lab, we touched one of their rockets that went into space. From that moment, we knew the material had to be this brilliant carbon fibre.
Having come from South Africa, Kirsten found her passion in dancing when she attended a hip-hop class with her mum. Her teachers told her to quit dancing and focus on school. Now she is one of the top dancers in the world- dancing with stars such as Rihanna, J Lo, Justin Bieber, Justin Derulo, and so many more.
Firstly, the literal crown, which represents the Royal Family dance crew. The angles and changes within the crown point to the changing and dynamic movements of their dance style. The heart reflects the “family” aspect of her crew.
Brass to represent gold. The “royal” aspect of the Royal Family dance crew.
Whilst his friends were off succeeding in their careers, Joe was going to standup comedy bars till 2 am - performing 300 shows over 3 years. He was labouring and cleaning cars to make ends meet. His hardwork and belief paid off this year, making him the youngest comedian to sell out the Sky City Theatre.
Joe’s half Fijian and half Maori. Both these cultures play a huge role in NZ culture, so I wanted to capture and represent these cultures within the shape. It’s a microphone - the tool of Joe’s trade. The head is a Koru symbol, whilst the handle is made of Fijian symbolism.
Green India Marble to represent pounamu. Pounamu plays a vital role in Maori culture, so I wanted to represent this in our collection of NZ symbols and materials.
A third generation Kiwi, Ranjna is an amazing example of what we can achieve against all odds. In the 70s, her and her husband started a small health company. They now have 50 clinics, over 1,000 staff and 260,000 registered patients. In 2021, she was awarded NZ Innovator of the Year for her the innnovations in her Family Harm Program “Gandhi Nivas”.
Ranjna’s shape was a great chance to show off Indian symbolism. We’ve borrowed the Lotus symbol, which is featured in her Family Harm Program “Gandhi Nivas” and is ever prevalent in Mandalas. Inside the petals, we’ve placed the logo of Ranjna’s company, Tamaki Health.
White acrylic. When think of clinics, this material was the most symbolic. A glossy white acrylic which is the staple of hospitals and health clinics.
As a child, Kane used to go to the nets after school and hit the ball on a string in his carport in Tauranga. His focus on curiosity, following your passion, and always learning has led to him becoming one of the best cricketers ever. In 2021, he captained New Zealand to victory at the the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.
Captain Kane’s nickname is “Steady the Ship”. Coined by ACC for his tendency to consistently provide stability to the NZ cricket team. We’ve borrowed this nickname and built Captain Kane his very own ship’s steering wheel.
The inner white circle has the width of a cricket ball, and is made of a cricket ball (patent) leather. The handles for his steering wheel are the handles of cricket bats - fashioned out of Ash wood.
Michelle grew up all over the world. Growing up near the poverty line, she didn’t have equal access to education - like so many don’t today. This inspired her to create Nanogirl Labs - an education company bringing science to kids from over 100 countries around the world.
Laboratory flask. Michelle’s alter ego of Nanogirl’s symbol, the flask captures Michelle’s philosophy of having a go and experimenting as much as you can.
White acrylic, with clear acrylic, and nuts and bolts. The acrylic represents some of the different materials you might find in a lab, such as safety glasses. The nuts and bolts are to represent her engineering background.