Culture, heritage major focus now

16:00, Apr 02 2014
Warren Pohatu
CREATIVE EYE: Warren Pohatu, 52, pictured with one of his works, has his own graphic design business, Warren Pohatu Creative.

Warren Pohatu, 52, lives in Glen Eden with son Manaia. He talks with reporter Monica Tischler about his work as a graphic designer. 

How did you get into graphic design?

During school, my teachers showed me what it was all about.

I then studied at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design in the early 1980s and completed a three-year degree.

Where has it taken you?

My first job was hanging pictures and designing exhibition signs at the Wellington Art Gallery.


It was a good foot in the door.

When my partner became pregnant I moved to Kawerau.

After six months of working as a labourer in the local paper mill, an advert for a graphic designer popped up.

Using a computer, I had to create training manuals by illustrating equipment like tree cutters, valves, trucks and then scan them in to the computer.

That was in 1984 and quite frankly I didn't think computers had a place in design.

I was trained to do everything with pens, paper and a ruler but over time I learned how to draw directly on the computer using Photoshop.

I've worked for Saatchi and Saatchi on a Tip Top campaign and Coca-Cola and McDonald's as well.

I've designed a couple of Happy Meal boxes.

Do you come from a creative family?

When I was 20 I was interested to know where my talent came from.

There are so many people to credit. I spent 30 years researching my genealogy and there are about eight master carvers over a few generations.

What makes a good graphic designer?

As a designer you have to handle a rejection rate of 75 per cent.

You'll pitch four ideas and three will get scrapped.

You don't have to be a good drawer, you just have to be full of good ideas.

What's the best thing about the job?

Being able to touch the minds and hearts of people - especially through my recent work of writing and illustrating books and calendars.

And the worst?

Deadlines and budgets. I was always stressed and under pressure.

Do you get to travel?

I did some work with Tahiti Tourism and I went there a couple of times a year to research and take photos.

Graphic design has heaps of opportunities because the programmes are the same anywhere in the world.

What does the future hold?

My work's done a full circle where it's now about my culture and heritage.

I'm so passionate about my genealogy and I want to share that with my family.

I want to continue writing and illustrating books and calendars as well as doing a bit more freelance work where I can pick and choose what I do.

Visit and search "MaoriBoy Productions" to view Warren's work.

Western Leader