On 6 December an impressive carved gateway marking the entrance to Victoria University’s Te Herenga Waka Marae will be unveiled.
It is part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the marae’s carved meeting house, Te Tumu Herenga Waka.
The new seven metre high gateway, carved from totara, will stand at the entrance to the marae between two buildings on Kelburn Parade. It has been carved by master carver Dr Takirirangi Smith, who studied at Victoria in the 1980s and during this time also led the carving of the meeting house.
Dr Smith, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate at Victoria’s December Graduation, describes the gateway as "another step in the journey of creating a place on campus where Maori values can be expressed".
"The carvings on the new gateway are connected visually and symbolically to carvings throughout the marae. The gateway, flagpole, meeting house, dining room and the School of Maori Studies—Te Kawa a Maui—all carry the common theme of Maui."
Marae Manager Te Ripowai Higgins says there is much anticipation about the anniversary.
"Initiated by Professor Hirini Mead, then Professor of Maori Studies, Te Herenga Waka Marae has played an important part in the life of Victoria and beyond. Our door is always open and we look forward to celebrating this occasion with alumni and friends of Victoria."
She says the meeting house has special significance in Maoridom, not only because it is pan-tribal, but also because of two important figures in its establishment.
"Ruka Broughton, who was recognised as one of the nation’s most qualified tohunga, installed the mauri of the house. Dr Wiremu Parker named the marae ‘Te Herenga Waka’—the hitching place of canoes. Sadly both died soon before the opening in December 1986.
"When all tribal leaders came to the marae for the opening of this house, it was in part a tribute to these men and recognition that the cost of this house was great."
The marae’s flagpole, carved by Dr Smith for the 20th anniversary, depicts the important contributions made by these figures, to the life of the marae and to Maoridom.
In the lead up to the 6 December anniversary, the University has held lectures, public seminars, special dinners and other celebrations.
Marae open day – Tuesday 6 December, 1-3pm
Members of the public are most welcome to join in the celebrations and tour the marae on Kelburn Campus between 1-3pm on Tuesday 6 December.