Te Aho a Māui is to sit alongside EIT- Eastern Institute of Technology as the formal Māori name for the East Coast’s leading tertiary education institution.
Fittingly, says EIT chief executive Chris Collins, the announcement of the new name dovetails with Māori Language week which is being celebrated from July 1-7 with Ngā Ingoa Māori (Māori names) as its theme.
Kaumātua Matiu Eru explains that Te Aho a Māui translates as the light that radiates from Māui, the legendary figure who in Māori mythology fished up the North Island.
Among his many legendary exploits, Māui ensnared the sun to lengthen the hours of daylight. He succeeded in this task by accessing the sacred knowledge entwined in the strands of rope that held the sun fast.
For his feat, encapsulated in the phrase Te Aho a Māui, this great hero of Polynesian legend earned himself the title of ‘capturer of light’.
The creation myth of Te Aho a Māui was chosen for EIT because of its allusions to human connections and interrelationships which, through whakapapa and geography, bind people to each other and to the universe.
A new and inclusive name was sought to cement 2011’s merger of Tairāwhiti Polytechnic and EIT Hawke’s Bay, and the process to determine what that should be, required measured, serious and thoughtful consideration, says Professor Roger Maaka, Dean of Te Manga Māori.
Wide ranging consultation was spearheaded by kaumātua for EIT Hawke’s Bay, the late Tuahine (Joe) Northover and more recently Matiu Eru, EIT Tairāwhiti kaumātua Taina Ngārimu, Associate Professor Derek Lardelli, who heads Toihoukura, Tairāwhiti’s Maori Visual Arts and Design School, and Te Manga Māori senior lecturer Materoa Haenga.
The kaumātua for the two campuses recommended Te Aho a Māui as a name that embraces whakapapa links between Ngāti Kahungunu and Tairāwhiti Iwi and Horouta and Takitimu waka.
EIT Council member Tracee Te Huia also played an important role in consulting with Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chair Ngahiwi Tomoana. Tracee stated, “it’s pertinent we get the name right for our future generations.”
Professor Maaka said many aspects were considered in the choice of name. It needed to underscore EIT’s mana and to encompass EIT’s catchment, which took in all the peoples of the East Cape to the Takapau Plains.
Thought also had to be given to how it might be handled by non-Māori speakers. “We did not want it mispronounced or to adopt a literal Māori translation for the Eastern Institute of Technology.”
Above all, he said, it was important that the name was inclusive, both in terms of support and in encompassing all those drawn together by the bonds of learning.
“It acknowledges a new beginning for EIT in terms of the merger with Te Tairāwhiti and a way forward to the future alongside EIT’s current activities and initiatives. The name of Te Aho a Māui embraces all these aspects.
“Te Aho a Māui will be used in speechmaking, on official documents and on EIT signage – it will be there for a long, long time.”