Landmarks Whenua Tohunga promotes New Zealand's unique culture and connects visitors to our stories and places.

Landmarks is a partnership between Manatū Taonga - Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai, and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. The programme provides a unified approach to promoting and encouraging people to visit New Zealand’s historically and culturally important places.

Northland is home to many of these stories, which is why it was chosen as the region to launch Landmarks in 2016. Landmarks Northland was developed together with our Northland partners, Te Tai Tokerau iwi and hapū, and the tourism sector. 

The programme extended into the Otago region in December 2017 in partnership with papatipu runanka and local communities.

Karen Adair, Ministry Policy Group Manager and Heritage NZ's CE Andrew Coleman unveiling a plaque. Image courtesy of Heritage NZ.

Developing our logo and name

The logo was developed from thinking around Maunga some of the most significant landmarks for Māori and Pakeha alike. Stars too have a strong link to landmarks and are also used for navigation. The Southern Cross was explored along with Tāniko weaving which evolved into and tuktuku panel based designs.

We looked to tukutuku panels for inspiration to create an easily identifiable New Zealand mark, formed from a representation of the very landmarks themselves.

This series of marks says Aotearoa/New Zealand in a unique yet familiar way, and also implies that landmarks don’t stand alone – that New Zealand is literally a ‘Tapestry of Landmarks’.

The Te Reo naming was provided for Landmarks by an eminent Māori linguist in full understanding it will stretch the reo. He felt this usage brings forward the view that Te Reo is a living language and also, any name chosen will attract challenge and this is good. The use of “Tohunga” coupled with Whenua elevates the sites that we have identified as Landmarks to a higher level culturally, historically and spiritually. Additionally, ‘Tohunga’ represents the story teller and the passing of the stories through generations of the Land (Landmarks). 

Criteria for sites

Sites must meet a set criteria to qualify. Sites must have:

  • special significance to New Zealand
  • storytelling potential
  • iwi benefit
  • community benefit
  • stories that matter to people
  • accessibility
  • family friendly facilities
  • potential to grow
  • a high level of presentation
  • an owner willing to be part of Landmarks.

Download the Criteria Guidelines

Media releases

Heritage New Zealand - Otago Landmarks highlights region's rich history  (15 Dec 2017)

Ministry for Culture and Heritage - Landmarks Whenua Tohunga showcasing Otago’s history and heritage (15 Dec 2017)

Tourism New Zealand - Landmarks launch encourages visitors to explore Otago (15 Dec 2017)

Real Journeys - TSS Earnslaw One of Otago’s Most Significant Heritage sites (15 Dec 2017)

Ministry for Culture and Heritage - Landmarks Whenua Tohunga reveals Northland’s precious culture and heritage (01 Dec 2016)

New Zealand Government - Landmarks pilot tells New Zealand’s stories (01 Dec 2016)

Contact us

Contact Landmarks Whenua Tohunga at

Updated on 8th January 2018