Right from the beginning TEAL, NAC and later Air New Zealand produced travel bags that reveal the company’s name, colours and logo. As such they are important markers of the changing face of the airline. Air New Zealand 75 years. Our nation. The world. Connected has a selection of these bags on display. They are spread throughout the exhibition and have been used to represent important moments like a name change, a significant anniversary or a special promotion.
A navy blue TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) travel bag made to celebrate the airline’s 21st birthday in 1961, is a good example of the promotional capacity of a travel bag. The graphic on the side not only marks 21 years of travel across the Tasman Sea but it also highlights the point that TEAL, now 100% New Zealand owned, was ‘New Zealand’s International Airline’, as opposed to NAC (National Airways Corporation) who flew national routes. The company logo, the Maroro, is featured on the bag. The Maroro (flying fish) was selected as the company logo in 1946 because of its association with the Pacific, a connection further reinforced by the pale blue images depicted around the edge of the central monogram. Alongside flights to Australia, Pacific routes were some of the most important for the airline including the famous Coral Route which island hopped from Auckland to Tahiti via Fiji and the Cook Islands in the 1950s.
NAC produced a racy red travel bag with white piping – these were the company colours. The bag also adorns the NAC bird logo, a stylised kūaka (godwit) which was selected because of the bird’s association with long distance flying.
A bag produced in 1965 represents a moment in time when TEAL became Air New Zealand. This bag still has the Maroro, the Koru didn’t arrive until 1973. The name change occurred at a point in time when the first jet planes, the DC-8s were introduced. Now the airline could travel further faster and take more people than ever before. A name that both promoted the airline and New Zealand as a destination was hugely important to the success of both Air New Zealand and New Zealand tourism.
A bag made in the 1980s, has the Air New Zealand name and the Koru logo. The Koru was to become one of the strongest and most recognisable symbols in New Zealand and around the world. The Roundhill Studio in Auckland came up with the final design, they were briefed to create a symbol that reflected New Zealand’s Māori cultural heritage. The result – a silver fern frond unfolding, symbolising life and something new arising from the old. The Koru can also be interpreted as a Mango Pare – a Māori motif depicting a hammerhead shark signifying vigour and strength.
The first appearance of the Koru was on a newly acquired DC-10, it arrived in New Zealand in 1973 sporting the Koru on its tail.
The strength of the Koru is that it is recognisable not matter where it is used or what it is applied to. The exhibition has a number of quirky examples including Koru lager, a lighter, cuff links and a mug. A pink travel bag, which is not immediately recognisable as Air New Zealand because of its colour, has the airlines name and Koru across the side.
This bag was a giveaway on Air New Zealand’s special Pink Flights to the Sydney Mardi Gras. Performing artist Mika received it when he took the flight in 2008. The deal included pink cocktails, drag queen performances and a cabaret performed by crew. Planes were cheekily decorated with long pink eyelashes and feather boa. These flights and this bag demonstrate Air New Zealand’s on going ability to adapt and change, reflecting both the changing focus of the airline as well as the changing face of New Zealand society.