growing whenua

A Maori knowledge hub digital solution for Tupu NZ

Who we worked with:
Te Puni Kōkiri
What we did:

Strategy UX Design Build Improve

Check it out:

A Maori knowledge hub digital solution for Tupu NZ

We teamed up with Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development, to establish a digital solution that could help whānau connect with, develop and invest in whenua Māori. As a result, was created to support whānau aspirations for Māori freehold land — to grow whānau through whenua.

It was co-designed in collaboration with a group of Māori landowners to ensure we built a website that would meet the needs of the end users. This collaboration planted the seed for We worked together to define the tools, resources, and information that could help whānau start to unlock the opportunities for their whenua.

The first-phase website launch is considered the first chapter for, with the ambition to continue to create more resources and information for the site in an ongoing fashion.

In 2019, Minister Mahuta announced the Whenua Māori Programme — a four-year programme to unlock the potential of whenua Māori. The programme, co-led by Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Justice, included plans to create a website with up-to-date land profiles, to help landowners connect, develop and invest in their whenua. supports the Whenua Māori Programme by helping Māori landowners navigate the complex journey of land ownership. Providing step-by-step pathways through complex tasks — offering users valuable guidance about who to talk to, and what to do next — the site ultimately inspires them to take action. The project followed a consultative process throughout, using discovery and ideation workshops to inform the end product and structured rounds of user testing to validate project concepts and website iterations.

Collaboration was very much at the heart of the project, pulling together multiple stakeholders into a unified team in order to achieve an outcome that was technically complex but highly accessible and useful — a critical combination given the diverse needs of the target audience. Alongside a wealth of helpful information and rich content split into three core categories, the finished product included a powerful and up-to-date land block search function, a library of land use fact sheets, a governance health check tool and the ability to search for funding opportunities. It’s hoped the website will prove to be a means of helping whānau shape the future of their whenua for many generations to come.


Designing out the complexity

It was important that the information architecture be structured in a way that makes sense to landowners and others using the website – it is the foundation of the user experience of the website.

A crucial part of the design was making sure that people could easily find what they needed and be guided toward taking informed action. The content structure was designed to guide them through various parts of their land development journey and relied heavily on the use of personas and user journeys.

A colour palette that reflects the project purpose

With the core purpose of being to support Māori Freehold Land owners and whānau through all aspects of connecting with, governing and making use of their land, it was fitting to select a palette that supported this ambition.

The range of colours used throughout the website design are inspired by nature itself, drawn from the diverse depth of tones present in the New Zealand landscape.

Highlighting important data with a powerful search function

A principal tool developed for the website was giving users the ability to locate their land by name, trust or block number to discover a wealth of key data.

Visitors can find land locations, boundary lines, aerial photos, information on environment, economy and climate, as well as key details on the land itself — about the soil, water, slope, and vegetation there — and the potential that creates. This information was also available as a downloadable report.

Uncovering industry potential with land use fact sheets

Land use fact sheets were designed to help those with aspirations for developing their whenua, showing users what kind of industries are successful in various regions, and helping them understand what is needed to get started — like the environmental implications for each industry, and any financial considerations they may need to know about.

Ultimately, the fact sheets are designed to be a great resource to use when whānau are ready to take the potential of their whenua to the next level.

"Whānau development through whenua is an ongoing aspiration for whānau Māori and Māori Freehold Landowners. Whānau require access to information that is both relevant and appropriate and provides a range of resources and information to support them to make informed decisions." 

Jo Taite Whenua Māori Programme Advisory Service Lead