Toi Manarau: The Toi Tangata take on co-design

There is no set outcome when designing with and for the community. Read on as our Kaiārahi- Design, innovation, research lead, Crystal Pekepo-Ratu explores the Toi Tangata take on co-design – Toi Manarau. 

Co-design is a commonly used design approach which has been gaining popularity in the public health sector in tackling broad, complex social issues.

As a Māori health agency that delivers professional development opportunities from a te ao Māori perspective Toi Tangata has created their own take on co-design; Toi Manarau. 

Toi Manarau is a social design model developed and used by Toi Tangata. Toi (the art of potential) Manarau (empowering pathways) explores and interacts with a variety of kaupapa Māori design tools as an application to explore meaningful solutions that address the diverse needs of Māori whānau, hapū, and communities.

Design is deeply ingrained in our whakapapa and Toi Manarau shifts our mindset as practitioners to re-distribute and challenge power in uplifting the voices, participation and contribution of whānau and communities with lived experiences.

In essence, Toi Manarau is the notion of diversity, integrity, worldviews, and exploring the many possibilities and opportunities to better understand Māori and our intrinsic ways of thinking. To remember our whakapapa and our obligation to exhibit and encapsulate all relationships to our taiao and kōrero tuku iho, why we think and act the way we do that shifts design to a higher level of design for whānau to reach their full potential.

Hosted by Toi Te Ora Public Health in Rotorua, Toi Tangata ran a co-design Toi Ako workshop to support understanding about the achievement of Māori health equity and how co-design can be an activity to work towards being more responsive to what we do with regard to te Tiriti, Iwi, and hapū.

Participants attended with the hope to learn more around a Māori co-design paradigm, to challenge and develop their own thinking and assumptions; to identify how they can approach some of their own work differently, and to explore capacity development opportunities for their wider staff. 

We know that design can be messy – very messy- and during this Toi Ako workshop we got messy, explored, explained, demonstrated and had a chance to tutu with a variety of kaupapa Māori design tools using pūrākau and whakataukī. 

One of the key learnings in this workshop was there is no set outcome when designing with and for the community. There will be a lot of toing and froing, and going back and forward in order to explore all the ideas and experiences that might be informing the things people say and do as ideas develop.

Just like it’s name, Toi Manarau is still being explored to capture and design diverse lived experiences, to encourage and ensure the redistribution of power between Innovation of development, quick wins vs  realities, inequity, and worldviews.

Crystal Pekepo-Ratu

Crystal Pekepo-Ratu (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Vara) is the Kaiārahi- Design, innovation, research lead for Toi Tangata.