New Zealand Police needed a visual identity to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) representing what it has meant to serve with the squad, what it means to be a current AOS member, and to project that ethos into the future.
After completing an extensive exploration, we arrived at a symbol – the Wahaika. The Wahaika symbol resonated so deeply with the AOS because Wahaika are unique to New Zealand; used by only the most proficient and proven of warriors; can disarm an assailant or adversary quickly and efficiently; used as a negotiating tool; viewed as a peace maker or bridge builder; placed on the ground as an offering of peace while illustrating strength.
We used co-design to engage and involve our client and their communities in the creative process, utilising ethnographic, anthropological and sociological methods. We walked a creative journey alongside serving AOS members, its veterans and aspirants, along with artists and artisans, geologists, historians, and Māori and Pakeha scholars. Both the object and the process contain much symbolism because of this intense collaborative journey.
“When we started the process that led to the creation of this wahaika, we thought we were commissioning an emblem. A logo that would mark the AOS's first 50 years. What we got was a journey; A process that engaged people from every corner of our organisation, past and present, as well as our wider community.
The designers worked alongside members of the AOS, and together we undertook a process that would distil the very essence of what it has meant, and now means, to be a member of the Squad. Rather than ink on a page, our emblem was carved from rock. It reflects our quiet aspirations and our proud history. Mana. Focus. Protection. Strength. Teamwork. The ethos through which this weapon was created is the AOS ethos.”
— Pete Hayes Manager, New Zealand Police Association