The Diversity Fern

stacked nz diversity logo web The Diversity FernThe Commission’s Diversity Fern has been redesigned as a distillation of the original concept but which can be more effectively used as a logo.

The Diversity Fern was designed by Malaysian-born designer, Jean Voon, who first approached the Race Relations Office (before it merged with the Human Rights Commission) when she was studying Graphic Design at Unitec, Auckland.

“We had an open brief, so we could design for an imaginary institution or company or brand, but I wanted to work with a real organisation,” she says. “And I’m passionate about social justice, particularly race relations.”

The first campaign that Ms Voon worked on, aimed at promoting ethnic diversity in secondary schools, she conceived the message, “take a walk in someone else’s shoes”. She also designed the accompanying posters. In 2005, she designed what is now known as the diversity fern, originally for Race Relations Day. It is now a permanent feature of the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme, featuring on banners, posters, as a brooch and on t-shirts.

“The fern is so strongly associated with New Zealand as a country, so I wanted to combine that with the motifs associated with different cultures; it was about combining ideas about multiculturalism with a New Zealand symbol.”

Ms Voon’s redesign of the fern, bolder and simpler version of the original, can be more easily reduced in size and work more effectively as a logo.  The new diversity fern still includes most of the motifs used in the original.

  1. The traditional kowhaiwhai pattern from a painted panel of the Manutuke church (1849).
  2. Samoan pattern from a tapa cloth.
  3. An abstracted form of a pattern present in many African and Asian motifs.
  4. A European Fleur de Lys design, from a hinge of a door of Auckland’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.
  5. A middle Eastern motif
  6. Baby fronds suggesting new growth.

“I’ve been pleased that the design has been received so well, and surprised in the way it seems to have a life of its own,” says Ms Voon.

Back to top