Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

The name Kōtuku: LIANZA Emerging Leaders Programme

We wanted to give the LIANZA Emerging Leaders Programme a distinctive name that people in the library industry can recognise and relate to, and that firmly places it in an Aotearoa New Zealand context.

Kōtuku is a New Zealand bird, also known as the white heron. It is one of the rarest birds in the country, and one of the most beautiful. It lives in more remote parts of the country, breeding only at Okarito in Westland.

For Māori, the kōtuku is pure and beautiful and special, and being compared to a kōtuku is highly complimentary. Significantly, it represents all the people who live here: it is the traveller, who has chosen to come to Aotearoa and to stay.

White herons are found in China, Japan, India and Australia, as well as Aotearoa New Zealand, and herons of other types are found all over the world. The symbolism of herons from different cultures embodies the spirit of an emerging leadership programme.

In ancient Egypt, herons symbolized rebirth, light, dawn, and order. In ancient Greece, they were the messenger of Athena, Goddess of wisdom, and also associated with the phoenix, a symbol of rebirth.

In Japanese culture they are a symbol of purity, and in Chinese culture they symbolize a pathway. In Renaissance European art, the heron symbolized someone being steadfast on the correct path in life.

In many cultures they are a good omen, being considered clever, resourceful and intelligent.

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