Plato CreativeMetro Livery
Submission # 107
Environmental – Kaupapa Taiao
Identity – Place
Identity – People & Culture
Metro is the public transport provider for the Greater Christchurch area, run by regional council Environment Canterbury. A routine contract renewal of bus operators in 2019/2020 presented an opportunity to create a new livery for the fleet with a goal to increase patronage, be ‘uniquely Canterbury’, and represent Te Ao Māori and Environment Canterbury’s shared values with Ngāi Tahu.
To refine the design brief, we first led a design thinking based workshop with members of Environment Canterbury’s public transport, marketing, design and Tuia teams, and representatives from the Metro customer services team. As our strategic recommendations developed, multiple visits to the central bus interchange and the city’s streets to interview both users and non-users kept our thinking audience focused.
In recent years, Christchurch has been going through a unique period of redevelopment. Our region’s cultural narratives are proudly displayed in the design of our rapidly changing built environment. Although not a building, we suggested that public transport’s prominence and exposure within the urban landscape warranted a similar approach.
The cultural narrative developed by Matapopore (the organisation responsible for realising Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu values, aspirations and narratives in design) added depth and local context to the selected theme of ‘our connected region’.
Metro’s narrative revolves around the concept of kaihaukai, a system that once connected the hāpu/sub-tribes of the region through travel, trade, kinship and sharing of mahinga kai/food resources. Today, surrounded by our urban environment, it is the Metro network that provides a vital connection between people and the Greater Christchurch area. By weaving into the design the fundamentals of kaihaukai, we aimed to create a meaningful sense of place and connection that enriches people’s understanding of their region.
Another practice that makes up the kaihaukai system is mātauranga, the growth and transfer of traditional ecological knowledge to future generations. The Metro bus livery itself is a modern-day interpretation of mātauranga, passing the story of our region on to future Cantabrians.
From the outset, the intention was to design something that reflected brand and community equally. This required a truly collaborative effort, with input, feedback and approvals provided by multiple stakeholder groups.
To ensure we visually created something with real meaning for the people of Greater Christchurch, we developed the theme of ‘our connected region’. Alongside Matapopore and Ngāi Tahu artist Morgan Mathews-Hale, we explored motifs inspired by taonga/treasure species, the foods and resources shared by hapū/sub-tribes, and the natural landscape that connected them; these motifs were developed individually first, then brought together to create a single, connected depiction.
The linear style of the ‘our connected region’ device is sympathetic to Metro’s existing brand to hold onto the equity currently in market. This will also aid a more seamless rollout as the bus fleet is upgraded in stages over the next few years.
Outside of the livery, the motifs can be individualised for use in other applications alongside stories that encourage users to look at their modern day surroundings in a different way; to understand what the natural environment is now and what we once depended on for survival.
Colour also represents the Metro narrative. The green of the city's only loop route represents land and the new teal buses, water. Safety and longevity were also key considerations when selecting both the tones of paint and vinyl, and were finalised after valuable consultation with operators and their suppliers.
"I particularly like the process employed to reach this outcome. The narrative is a very strong idea, subtly introduced into the everyday. It is something that will grow and influence the city with time."
"Interesting formal exploration within a Te Ao Maori context."
Credits & Collaborators: Creative Director - Amy Douglas Design Strategist - Amy Douglas, Fiona Murray, Matapopore Charitable Trust, Steve Tullett Art Director - Amy Douglas, James Mumby-Croft Illustrator - James Mumby-Croft, Morgan Mathews-Hale (Kaitiaki Studios) Account manager - Nicole Trenwith, Phil Shearing, Rachel Maisey
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