Out with the old, in with the new at uni

The logo and name on the University of Otago sign in Cumberland St are being updated in time for...
The logo and name on the University of Otago sign in Cumberland St are being updated in time for an official launch of the university’s new branding, next month. Photo: Gregor Richardson
The University of Otago’s historic coat of arms is coming down as it prepares for the launch of its new logo next month.

Earlier this week, the Otago Daily Times spotted scaffolding on the university sign at Cumberland St.

Deputy vice-chancellor Prof Tony Ballantyne confirmed workers were removing the old logo from the sign, and replacing it with the new one.

"The existing sign has been removed from the plinth and we are taking the opportunity to do some maintenance work on the plinth this month.

The updated sign, featuring the university’s new tohu (symbol) and ikoa Māori (Māori name), would be unveiled at a new logo launch event on May 1, he said.

"Our official name will remain the University of Otago, while our present ikoa Māori will be changed from Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo to Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka (a metaphor meaning a place of many firsts).

"We are proud of the changes, which come after strong support in a survey last year of Otago, students, staff and alumni. We’re also proud of the collaboration with mana whenua."

The predicted $1.3 million cost of implementing the rebranding would be spread over two financial years, he said.

A phased implementation of the new brand would start with changes to marketing, communications and digital channels from next month.

The university’s new logo and ikoa Māori (Maori name).
The university’s new logo and ikoa Māori (Maori name).
Replacement of most of the physical signage and other assets would happen from January 2025.

The proposed changes received some criticism in the public sphere when they were initially released, but Prof Ballantyne said they were received well by "key stakeholders".

The university did a five-week consultation with alumni, students and staff last year to seek feedback on the proposed new logo and name, primarily through a survey which received 9007 completed responses.

It was the largest stakeholder consultation the university had ever undertaken, he said.

"It was strongly supported by staff and students with almost three-quarters of those surveyed supporting the proposed brand as reflecting the university’s future direction."

The university initially proposed the changes in March last year, and concluded consultation in July.

The timing coincided with announcements of restructuring and the need to find savings across the board at the institution.

Prof Ballantyne said the University Council had decided to approve the logo and name changes last year, but push out starting to make the actual changes until next month and January next year after concern was raised in the survey about the timing of implementation given the university’s financial challenges.