exploring heritage

Tohu Whenua

Who we worked with:
Heritage New Zealand
What we did:

Strategy UX Design Build Improve

Check it out:

Landmarks that tell our stories

Spectacular coastlines and magnificent alps, New Zealand is rich and diverse with plenty to offer both domestic and International travellers. Sometimes overlooked on visitors itineraries however, are the unique sites that have shaped New Zealand’s heritage. 

From Ruapekapeka Pā in the far North to the Kawarau Suspension Bridge outside Queenstown, sites of cultural significance are dotted across the country.  Tohu Whenua is a visitor programme that connects New Zealanders with these unique heritage sites and in doing so enhances our sense of national identity.

We’ve worked with Tohu Whenua for a number of years. The recent piece of work involved a re-skining of their Umbraco site. The brief was to modernise the design while keeping in mind the specific needs of their wide ranging user groups. This involved refreshing the design, updating the brand, providing visuals and rolling out the approved look and feel to the update Umbraco platform. While the content already existed we worked with Tohu Whenua to add useful new features like an interactive map.

ohu Whenua is a partnership between Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (HNZPT), Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (DOC) and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Hīkina Whakatutuki (MBIE) and Te Puni Kokiri Ministry for Māori Development (TPK).

It aims to showcase important places and the stories that contribute to New Zealand’s national identity. With the ultimate goal of connecting New Zealanders with their heritage. 

The sites chosen as Tohu Whenua are places that have shaped our nation and created our defining stories. Together they form a network of Aotearoa New Zealand’s best heritage experiences 

Tohu Whenua works closely with iwi and communities in each region to identify the places that are most significant to their heritage. These are assessed against the programme’s criteria which includes: Special significance to New Zealand,  Storytelling Potential and Significance, Iwi and Community Benefit, Accessibility and Family Friendliness.  

Originally launched in 2016, the programme is successfully operating in three regions – Te Tai Tokerau / Northland, Otago and Te Tai Poutini / West Coast.  But it has big plans to roll out to other regions, eventually covering all 15 regions of New Zealand. The roll out will be on a region by region basis with Waikato being the next area in development.

The requirement to expand regions and grow website content has been a key consideration in our website design and development process.

The project overs a number of benefit to site owners, including creating a framework within which site owners and their communities are enabled to tell their stories.  To support site owners/managers to make these places ready for visitors and to realise the economic, social and cultural benefits of being part of the network. Each site has it’s own page on the Tohu Whenua site, with the site’s story, location, amenities and imagery.

It was important to ensure that the website UX was clean and simple, to enable members of the public to quickly and easily discover the featured heritage sites and explore their stories. 

Tohu Whenua includes publicly and privately owned places. Some are owned or cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga or Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai. Many are managed by trusts and some are privately owned.

We work closely with Tourism New Zealand, regional tourism organisations, mainstream and trade media, and of course the operators of each Tohu Whenua.

Visit the website: https://tohuwhenua.nz/


Designing the Experience

The redesign and redevelopment process began with a discovery phase, exploring users and how they would use the website in order to research or visit a landmark. Wireframes for the website were developed in conjunction with the client, and the result is a modern, user-friendly website.

Otago Page

Landing pages for each location were key in the development of the new website, allowing users to easily find landmark in their location of choice. Along with being functional, the use of stunning photography on these pages, helps to promote the beauty of each location.

Interactive Map

The use of an interactive map to select landmarks to explore. A seamless experience from desktop to mobile, allows the user to explore landmarks wherever they may be.

"The NV team were a pleasure to work with as we reimagined Tohu Whenua’s web offering.  They really listened to us and were responsive, creative and solutions focused, always making the effort to understand the programme and our audience. The new modern website means it’s easier than ever for visitors to find their new favourite heritage adventure."

Caroline Toplis Programme Manager Kaiwhakahaere Hōtaka, Tohu Whenua