He Tohu is a new permanent exhibition at the Wellington National Library which honours three significant constitutional documents that helped shaped New Zealand. Called ‘Signatures that shape New Zealand’, the exhibition looks at the historical implications of The Treaty of Waitangi (1840), the Women’s Suffrage Petition (1893) and The Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand (1935).


Ogilvy NZ approached us to create three painted digital portraits to be used on billboards, posters, bus station advertising and on the website. The brief required the work to convey the classic painting styles from the late 1800’s in keeping with the historic context of the exhibition’s theme. Illustrator Joseph Qui’s passion, practice and research of oil painting and portraiture made him the most suitable person for the job.


Joseph was provided old, B&W reference photos from the national archive of the Maori chief Eruera Maihi Petone, Te Rangi Topeora as well as suffragist Kate Sheppard. In addition to investing time in researching historical paintings, he found inspiration in the work of C.F Goldie and John Sargent and used his knowledge of facial anatomy to recreate missing details in what were mostly over-exposed photos.


Part of the approval process was for the Iwi (Maori tribe) to ensure that the paintings struck a true likeness of their ancestor. “…tears welled up in my eyes; Patuone looks wonderful. I am really proud of what has been achieved,“ said Hinerangi Himiona on reviewing the image.


Acknowledgement of the work’s quality was also stated by Peter Murray, Deputy Chief Executive Information Knowledge Services, The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua.
“Your design contributions are underpinning our exhibition’s success. We have attracted well over 20,000 visitors in just over four months since its opening in May compared to a maximum of 6,000 per year for the previous exhibition.


“As you know the true success of an exhibition like this is the collaboration and collective skill and the heart that everyone brings. The vision for He Tohu – He Whakapapa Korero, He Whenua Kura is in sight and this is embodied in the designs you have all contributed.”


See more of Joseph’s work here


National Library



Ogilvy NZ / 485 Design



2018 Illustrators Australia Illustration Awards
Gold, Advertising


2017 NZBest Awards
Silver, Design Craft (Illustration)


2017 NZBest Awards
Gold, Ngā Aho Award



Joseph Qiu


Ph: +61 2 9380 6988


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