Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People

Brand development for the world’s first government ministry for disabled people.

Image of girl with Williams Syndrom looking at camera, elbows on table, relaxed pose. She has long, brown, wavey hair. The image fades on the right to a purple background, on which sits the Whaikaha logo. The Whaikaha tohu design, depicting rata interwoven rata vines sits at the top right of the image, in gold colour.

Creating the brand identity for the world’s first ministry for disabled people, Whaikaha, was a massive priviledge and challenge. With the most diverse range of audience needs imaginable, our journey saw us expand what we thought possible in inclusive design.

  • Brand identity development
  • Brand design system development
  • Cultural messaging and design development
  • Collateral design
  • Photography library development
The Whaikaha whakatauaki sits on a light mustard background with the Whaikaha tohu design sitting to the left of it.
The Whaikaha logo graphic sits on a purple background. The logo graphic consists of two sets of 4 vertical lines, each starting parallel at the base and as they head upwards, the set of 4 lines on teh left crosses over the set of 4 lines on the right, before the both continue their parallel journey upwards, stopping a short way above the cross over point.

Along with the diverse range of accessibility needs, a big consideration was the needs of whaikaha Māori – disabled Māori – and establishing a way for this ministry to engage in a culturally-inclusive manner, based on the core principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We developed whakatauāki to reflect the idea of two groups (disabled communities and the Ministry) growing together to stand strong in the warmth of the sun. Tohu design then brought this message to life visually.

Our logo graphic is a succinct version of the tohu design and its core message.

Another world-first for the Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People is the sign-language version of the brand identity, which is accessed through video, by way of QR code woven in to optional logo structures.

Image of a range of design explorations including colour choices that explare colour blindness and contrast, imagery usage and approaches to typography and type style, all designed to help enable accessibility.
Image of a range of design explorations including colour choices that explare colour blindness and contrast, imagery usage and approaches to typography and type style, all designed to help enable accessibility.

In our initial stages of design development, we explored a wide range of accessibility considerations, including our approach to cultural visual language as well as practical design considerations, such as our approach to colour (colour blindness and colour contrast requirements), exploring the world’s most readable fonts, and approaches to use of imagery. Our aim was to create a design system that combined the needs of optimal aesthetic appeal and inclusive, accessible functionality.

Image of the front cover of the 2023 Whaikaha Annual Report. The cover consists of a large Whaikaha logo graphic with document title "2023 Pūrongō ā-tau - Annual Report" at the top of the page and the Whaikaha and NZ Government logos at the bottom of the page.
Designs for two Whaikaha message cards sit on a mustard coloured background. The cards contain a range of shapes, including squares, circles, and triangles, in a range of colours including blue, purple, dark teal and mustard. Running through the shapes, as if to bind them together, is the Whaikaha tohu graphic in a light tint shade. The card on the left side also the has the Whaikaha whakatauaki written on it.
Whaikaha website home page in desktop screen format

The Whaikaha website was brought to life by the team at AKQA, who interpreted the design system beautifully for the digital environment.

Optimal digital accessibility standards underpinned the entire website experience, from desktop to mobile site formats.

Whaikaha website "get started" page on mobile phone screen
Whaikaha website "Have your say" page on mobile phone screen

Our collective learnings have influenced much of our work since this project began and made us realise that the real beauty in design is not just in its form, but also in its function and how many people can access and enjoy it. It has also made us realise just how much opportunity our entire industry has to consider the needs of our communities with diverse needs.

Image of Somaon man sitting in wheelchair, doing dance with his hands, to camera

“The work we did was quite controversial and fast paced. It needed intellectual rigour around accessibility and creative expression for disabled people. Stephen was very humble, demonstrated his research and made my job super easy.”

Victoria Smith

Business Development Unit, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People