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Aho, in Te Reo, means a cord, a string or a line. It is the weft in the weaving, the thread of our genealogy, our descent and our descendants.
Aho is a creative studio that explores connections between whenua (lands), peoples, cultures, indigineity and hybridity. We create products that celebrate an indigenous Aotearoa identity and aesthetic. It's our vision to fuse art with form and function. To create taonga, that tell our stories and reflect our whakapapa, into our everyday lived environments.
We strive to keep whakapapa- the connections between people, environments and processes at the centre of our philosophy, which means for us, seeking out and employing processes, practices and materials that are sustainable and that ensures a better future for the people and the environments involved.
We believe that our lands, resources and culture belong not only to us, but to our tamariki (children), and theirs'. Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – For us and our children after us.
As Kaitiaki (guardians) of this whenua, and planet, we've made a commitment to working with sustainable, ethically sourced, organic and natural fibres. We work with a team in India who practice fair trade and who share our aspirations for tino-rangatiratanga (self determination) for themselves and their whānau. We're committed to understanding our business practices from a whakapapa-lens. Learning and recognising our connection to the things we use and consume, their origins, whenua (lands), maunga (mountains), iwi (people) and kaitiaki (guardians)
So 2023. Is going to look a little different and I plan to learn a bunch of new skills, both in business and in creativity, but also, and crucially, to strike a better balance as a Māmā in this very fleeting season.
This year, it’s my mission to run Aho as Pakihi. Still authentic, still true to our kaupapa. But just a little less entwined with my own creative meandering.
I hope to apply the business learnings to Aho, and savor the creative processes within the walls of our Kāinga.
This is a cautionary tale about sowing seeds of trust into an institution that has Māori window-dressing (metaphorical, not that they were using our window film :) )
Not entirely dissimilar perhaps to the critique of non Māori businesses who mis-appropriate Māori names for financial gain. Window dressing. Enough of a taste to get you through the door, but nothing beyond the superficial.
One of our most frequently asked questions is this:
“I’m Pākēhā, but love your products. Is it ok for me to purchase this for myself or as a gift, or is this cultural appropriation?”
I’ve thought many times over about trying to answer it, and always stumble with the idea that whatever I write may be somehow construed as the definitive definition of Appropriation vs appreciation.
But finally, after many scrapped drafts, I thought I’d offer you my own thought process.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”- Annie Dillard.Each day, a small but definitive act of resistance against the tides of capitalism, consumption, more, more, bigger, growth, profit. And a gradual leaning in toward time, space, movement, observation, creativity and presence.