Tohu, world’s first Māori-owned wine company celebrates 20 years

Launched in 1998 by Wakatū Incorporation in partnership with two Māori organisations, Tohu Wines is recognised as the first Māori-owned and operated wine label in the world.

Wakatū Incorporation chairman Paul Morgan said the vision was to have a platform to share the Māori culture, story and values with the world.

“From the beginning we knew how important our brand and story were,” he said.

“Every Tohu bottle carries our distinctive logo, derived from a koru pattern. For Māori, the koru symbolises growth, life and the natural world, and our logo celebrates this iconic spiral. It represents the growth of our company and the journey of our people from the past to today. This koru signifies our long-term intergenerational goals and has become our tohu, our signature,” said Morgan.

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Since 2002, Tohu Wines has been growing its own grapes, and since 2012, has been crafting wine in its own winery.

Tohu Wines is part of Kono, the food and beverage arm of Wakatū.

Kono CEO Rachel Taulelei said the company was proud that it could take its own grapes all the way from vineyards, to the winery, to consumers’ hands.

“Through Tohu Wines we get to take kaupapa Māori to the world every day. We strive to work in ways that are kind to people and environment without compromising quality and integrity. We have a strong spiritual connection with the land and a responsibility to pass it on in good health to future generations,” said Taulelei.

“Over the last twenty years, we have created internationally acclaimed wines, crafting wine that encapsulates a place and time, and reflects the unique characteristics of our vineyards. In making our wine we are committed to upholding our deeply held values, which include rangatiratanga, manaakitanga and hihiritanga – excellence, kindness and innovation,” she said.

Morgan said 20 years was a significant milestone for any business.

“It gives us the opportunity to reflect on our achievements and to acknowledge all those that have been part of our history and success, as well as to look forward to a positive future,” he said.

“We are thankful to all those who have worked tirelessly to take Tohu Wines from its humble beginnings through its current status as an internationally recognised and award- winning wine label. Our wines are now exported and enjoyed by people all over the world, with significant markets in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia,” said Morgan.

As part of the 20-year celebrations, Tohu is releasing a limited edition Methodé Traditionelle Rewa Rosé 2015 at a launch event in October.