Hamilton Airport’s tired terminal was undertaking a major upgrade. This meant a new positioning and brand to help fix it as an exciting hub for the region, now and in the future, embracing previously uncelebrated local Maaori history and culture.
Like any sensitive place branding work, this project had many considerations and a far-reaching impact. To ensure the process remained highly consultative, we assembled a group of over 25 stakeholders including airport management, the business park development team, local iwi (tribe representation), council representatives, Hamilton and Waikato Tourism, and local businesspeople.
We employed a circular process that allowed the strategic story to adapt as design and new connections were created. The strong relationship and connection between all involved ensured the brand was set up for cohesive implementation.
Strategy outcomes focused on the airport’s role as a gateway (waharoa), business hub and cultural symbol.
That resulted in a brand positioning of ‘Where your story starts’, representing our gateway.
Our tohu (logo) was inspired by the Pekapeka, a local native bat, symbolic of the spiritual waharoa (gateway) between worlds. Its vertical arms using symmetry and duality from Maaori design traditions, represent the runway, and the transition between earth and sky. The notched sides (hahae) are a traditional Maaori carving technique to show passing of time, lineage, and location.
The cultural design-lead then used these elements as a starting point for Maaori created artwork installed across the airport. All creative partners worked harmoniously throughout – brand, artists, architects, landscapers and signage – creating a cohesive brand experience.
It is a brand borne of culture from decades past, now positioned as ‘a waharoa between worlds’ for decades to come for all manuhiri (visitors).