The Te Rūnanga Taonga of Office was presented to honour Māori nursing and the NZNO Māori membership during the 2001 year of celebration of 100 years of Nursing Registration in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Taonga of Office is yet to be named by Te Rūnanga but she is in the form of a Hei Tiki – worn as a symbol of strength, fertility and leadership once worn by chiefs and high-ranking women. This Hei Tiki is designed to be simple so as not to diminish the mana of the wearer. She shows the rounded belly to indicate that she is a female. Her design has been based on that similar to one worn by the Ngāpuhi Chief Tamati Wakanene.
Tamati was a great leader of people and even though he was seen to not have fertility and died without any issue of children, his fertility was in the form of knowledge and the ability to pass this knowledge on. As power at that time was seen in strength of numbers ...
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is people, it is people, it is people
... Tamati knew that his very willing and able brother Patuone, from whom many people of the Hokianga are descended, would fulfil the numbers.
Like these brothers of the North, Te Rūnanga identifies that the leadership of Te Rūnanga is only a vehicle to carry the message of the people it serves.
The wearer of this Hei Tiki will be specially chosen by the Māori membership of NZNO at Hui ā-Tau. This Hui will determine the strength of the wearer and thereby elect her or him to lead Te Rūnanga for the next term of office.
This Taonga of Office will be owned by the Māori membership of NZNO and they alone will determine the status and mana that goes with her. Te Rūnanga will be the body to administer her. The Taonga of Office will be respected on a par with the NZNO Chain of Office.