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Ngā tohu nō te ao Māori
Cultural concepts and design influences

Kia mau ki te aka matua, kei mau ki te aka Tāepa
Hold the vine rooted in the ground, not the vine hanging from the heavens

The cultural concepts explored in this section are threads which hold together te ao Māori, and are critical to explore in relation to this project.

The explanations provided are applicable in the context of this project, there may be further definitions associated with these concepts not explored here. Each of these concepts have the opportunity to give effect to positive social, health, and educational outcomes. Each concept holding an enduring place in the role of tikanga and kawa.

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Ātea / Courtyards that allow functional space, despite weather conditions. Reminiscent of marae ātea where not only manuhiri are welcomed, but opportunities to learn and debate decisions along with spaces to contemplate, reflect, and study.


Ira wahine / Female life principle and Ira tāne / Male life principle, are two halves of a whole often depicted in the double spiral design.


Marae / Ancestral homes that allow concepts of marae to be seen as common and culturally safe spaces. The new school should include areas to enable the celebration of culture, and the application of tikanga. Common areas displayed through the concept of Marae include spaces to build and foster relationships between tuakana and teina, kaiako and tauira, wāhine and tāne.

Mātauranga Māori / Māori bodies of knowledge: The purpose of each new school is to educate the young people of our community. This should be holistic and include Māori knowledge. The design of the school provides the ultimate opportunity to deepen a collective understanding of the connections between people and place, intergenerational perspectives, and local history.


/ Village - an individual's success is a community success. There are benefits in modelling the new build on this concept.
Traditionally Pā were multi-functional. Across our region it is not unusual for iwi to maintain several sites at once. This would enable a sense of connection across community. The concept of nohoanga (traditional temporary campsites)
alongside pathways or waterways we believe is worth exploring.


Pātaka / Raised building on stilts, the concept relates to a pātaka mātauranga or storehouse of knowledge. Pātaka are traditionally raised off the ground to hinder pests from entering and keeping the contents safe within. A raised building will also speak to the local environment traditionally rich of various kai; nourishing communities. Also allowing for free space under the pātaka.

Taiao / Integration of our surrounding environment, for example sight-lines to local ranges and waterways. Paying respect to the many sites of significance (as shared through the iwi narratives). Along with taking into consideration energy requirements, taking advantage of the highest sunshine hours and the abundance of wind due to the proximity to Raukawakawa Moana. Considering water management systems that meet environmental and human needs.


Wai / Rivers, waterways, and wetlands are the lifeblood of Papatūānuku. They are part of a whakapapa that connects people to the wider landscape. Water sustained essential mahinga kai and was an indicator of mauri. How wastewater is dealt with will have an impact on mauri. Best practice waste sorting systems are preferred. Moreover, traditional Pā were located near fresh water. The McLauchlan Street site has a small stream running across it, named currently as Fulton Stream for the farm that once encompassed it. Ngā Wairau o Ruatere, one of the many tributaries of the stream should have a focus in the design.


Whakapapa / Each and every element human, environment, intangible and tangible has whakapapa. To recite one's whakapapa, is to link you to others, taking you through time and space.


Whenua / A key part of Māori identity is tūrangawaewae (a place to stand). This is a place where we feel especially empowered and connected. Establishing a new school precinct with a strong focus on the concept of tūrangawaewae will benefit learners, teachers, and the wider community.

Copyright 2022 by The iwi of Te Tātoru o Wairau.