The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


He Tohu exhibition scoops national design awards

9 October 2017

The new permanent exhibition, He Tohu, at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mâtauranga o Aotearoa scooped seven awards in the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards on Friday 6 October.

The Best awards are the largest design awards in Australasia, an annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product, interactive and motion design.

He Tohu gained the ‘Best of the Best’ Purple Pin Award for architecture, plus two golds, one silver and three bronze in other design excellence categories for its design, branding, interactives and cross-cultural collaboration.

The judges said of the exhibition space: “There is magic here! …the tactility of the ripple detail to the timber sends shivers up the spine. Exquisite detailing with considered integral lighting effects provide a technically brilliant solution.’’

He Tohu features three of the country’s most important historical documents: the 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand; 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi, and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pôti Wahine in a new state of the art exhibition space.

“This award is testament to the skill, expertise and care that went into creating this ground-breaking new exhibition,’’ says Peter Murray, Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs. “He Tohu is a cultural project of national importance, a Crown-iwi partnership celebrating and protecting these precious founding documents for generations to come. The exhibition has been a public and critical success, and great design is integral to that.’’

He Tohu offers greater public access and interaction with the constitutional documents and ensures they benefit from the latest conservation and display technology to ensure their preservation for generations to come.

More details on the Best Design Awards are here.

More information on He Tohu

He Tohu on Facebook (#hetohu)


He Tohu opened to the public on 20 May 2017 at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mâtauranga o Aotearoa. It is a permanent, free exhibition, led by the Department of Internal Affairs in partnership with Mâori. The three documents remain under the statutory guardianship and care of the Chief Archivist and Archives New Zealand.

The exhibition’s vision is: He whakapapa kôrero, he whenua kura – Talking about our past to create a better future. He Tohu aims to provide more information and opportunities to engage with the three documents, enriching understanding and discussion.

The exhibition was designed by Story Inc, in association with Studio Pacific Architecture and interactive designers Click Suite. It was built by Fletcher Construction.

Story Inc worked closely with content experts from Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand and two advisory boards. A Mâori Technical Advisory Group provided expert advice to the project and was integral in concept development and framing of the overall exhibition storyline and content. A Women’s Suffrage Petition Advisory Group, made up of subject-matter experts, also provided advice in developing the exhibition.

He Tohu is at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mâtauranga o Aotearoa in Wellington. The exhibition is presented by Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kâwanatanga and the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mâtauranga o Aotearoa, both of which are part of the Department of Internal Affairs. The documents remain under the guardianship and care of the Chief Archivist and Archives New Zealand. He Tohu is open six days a week and entry is free. For more information, go to our website or our Facebook page #hetohu

For further information, please contact or call +64 27 535 8639