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Video: Behind Air New Zealand’s iconic Māori koru symbol

written by Adam Thorn | April 30, 2020

Air New Zealand is lifting its target for removing single-use plastics.
Air New Zealand’s branding, created in the early ’70s, has barely changed in the last half-century (Australian Aviation archive)

Air New Zealand has tracked down the designer who created its iconic koru symbol to mark its 80th birthday today.

In the video, posted below, Ken Chapman reveals how he found inspiration in 1972 by sifting through the pages of a book on Māori decoration.

“It was a revelation,” he says. “The first time the plane landed I just thought wow, it’s arrived.”

The image has barely changed in 50 years, with only a slight refresh in 1996.

Mike and Jeff from Designworks, the airline’s lead brand agency in 2020, said, “Our teams have been working on Air New Zealand brand for over 15 years. It’s such a simple iconic symbol you don’t want to mess with that too much.


“The simplicity, it’s boldness, it’s elegance has meant that we have been able to use it as a starting point for everything we have been doing here at Air New Zealand.”

Air New Zealand’s head of brand, Jodi Williams, said, “New Zealanders are intrepid explorers, and people often tell me it’s the Koru and the ‘kia ora’ they experience when they step onboard our aircraft that makes them feel like they’re already home.

“Over the years the people, destinations and aircraft may have changed, but the Air New Zealand Koru remains constant.

“The Koru is symbolic of new life and new beginnings, and now is more important than ever to be reminded of how resilient we are as a business and as a nation – to continue to regenerate and bring new life to how we travel and connect with each other.”

Earlier this week, Air New Zealand was named the most reputable businesses in Australia and New Zealand, according to the latest release of a long-standing survey.

The RepTrak Company’s annual report measures the sentiment towards brands, and this year questioned more than 10,000 people. The results placed ANZ first, Qantas second and Virgin Australia 12th.

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Comments (2)

  • David Heath


    I know it’s owned by Air New Zealand… but wouldn’t this make for a fabulous national flag. With the koru on gold on a royal blue background.

  • T Hira


    Did you know that in the late 70s early 80s my grandparents had a netball team for the Auckland airport and they had the koru as their monogram on their uniforms. Te Puia Marae in Mangere has also had this design painted on the fences by my grandfather whom was devoted to the marae. The older generation in my family swears that my grandfather created the koru.

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