The kowhaiwhai is a unique art to our culture in Aotearoa/ New Zealand. It is symbolic, curvilinear painting that depicts elements of nature such as koru placing meanings and stories upon the formed patterns relevant to Māoritanga.
The purpose of the Hospital Play Specialist Association of Aotearoa New Zealand’s (HPSAANZ) kowhaiwhai is to have a visual image that accurately reflects our profession as Hospital Play Specialists (HPS) within the bicultural context of Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
Our original kowhaiwhai was gifted by a kaumatua to Margaret Tucker who was a Social worker at Wilson Home and also the Children’s Health Liaison Group President. The original design had concepts of the “koiri” design which means to flourish & strengthen oneself. As HPS we endeavour to provide an environment in which children can continue to learn, grow and make sense of the “world” around them within an often unfamiliar, overwhelming environment.
In 2015 the kowhaiwhai was reviewed by Pamela McCullough and Sandy Adsett. Pam is a HPS in Hawke’s bay who is of Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Pakeha descent. Sandy is a renowned Maori visual artist and cultural leader both nationally and internationally. Sandy is of Ngati Pahuwera and Ngati Kahungunu decent. The HPSAANZ did not have a template for the original design. This meant over time with editing & colour changes the design was no longer complete and there were slightly different designs/colours in circulation, i.e.-stickers, brochures, digital copies. Therefore this has made the kowhaiwhai lose its original intent/meaning.
In 2016 Sandy Adsett modified our HPS kowhaiwhai presenting us with a contemporary koiri design exclusive to the HPSAANZ. The centre trianglular points of the kowhaiwhai represent the tamaiti/child, their whānau/family and the medical team who are all working collaboratively to meet shared health care outcomes. The koru designs moving forwards and backwards are showing the importance of acknowledging the past to continue moving forwards.