EIT’s School of Māori Studies, Te Ūranga Waka, is ensuring Te Ara o Tāwhaki looks its best to celebrate 21 years for the marae on the Hawke’s Bay campus.
The anniversary of its opening, which will be celebrated in tandem with a weekend marking EIT’s 40th anniversary, is on 29 October.
Restoring buildings and taonga to their original condition is affirming once again the spirit and mana of the marae.
Te Ara o Tāwhaki translates as the pathway of Tāwhaki, a legendary figure who journeyed to the tenth heaven to attain the kete of karakia. Te Ūranga Waka lecturer Ron Dennis says Tāwhaki championed knowledge by bringing the kete back to earth to benefit mankind.
Head of school Puti Nuku acknowledges Joseph Te Rito, Mana Cracknell, Ihāia Hutana, Pauline Tangiora and many others who were, with the late Tuahine Northover, Pani Cambridge and Materoa Haenga, drivers for establishing the wharenui built and opened in 1994.
The vision for the marae was to support student learning in a vibrant, kaupapa Māori environment. As cultural awareness grew across campus, it was appropriate that EIT house its noho (live in) marae and hui (meeting) facilities alongside Te Ara o Tāwhaki to give full expression to kaupapa Māori and Mātauranga Māori.
More recent developments have been the opening of two spectacular buildings flanking Te Ara o Tāwhaki – Ko Ngā Ara Tumanako in 2004 and Te Ūranga Waka in 2012.
The concept for Te Ūranga Waka (meaning the landing place of canoes) was that of a whare waka, with the waka representing the learning journey. The building’s form and east-facing orientation echo that of Te Ara o Tāwhaki – the symbolic heart of Te Ūranga Waka.
Serving as a symbolic gateway and cultural focal point for the campus, the 300sq m building encompasses administration offices, meeting areas, research space and an expansive lobby which provides exhibition space for Māori art and crafts.
Te Ūranga Waka is a hub for Māori activity and an active promoter of tikanga and te reo Māori.
In 2011, Te Whatukura, the School of Māori Studies in Gisborne, became part of the EIT family when Tairāwhiti Polytechnic and EIT Hawke’s Bay merged, aligning the educational needs of the people of Te Tairāwhiti and Ngāti Kahungunu.
The 21st celebration will be an opportunity to acknowledge the many stalwarts who dreamed a dream, a dream which is now a reality for those on the EIT learning journey.