A new carved tomokanga (entranceway) at the front of NorthTec’s Te Puna o te Mātauranga marae was officially blessed, named and opened at a dawn ceremony today.
More than 150 NorthTec staff, students and members of the community students joined tohunga, Te Warihi Heteraka, at the 5am event.
The tomokanga was officially named Te Puna o Te Huinga Manu, meaning The Spring for the Gathering of the Birds. The name was chosen by a group of Kaumātua, Kuia and rangatira who represent the mana whenua of inner city Whangārei.
Te Puna o Te Huinga Manu sits in front of the marae and the two buildings are linked by an ātea (forecourt). The tomokanga, ātea and meeting house together form the official entryway into NorthTec.
The exterior of Te Puna o Te Huinga Manu is decorated with wooden carvings created by NorthTec’s whakairo (carving) students on the Maunga Kura Toi – Bachelor of Māori Arts programme. Their work was supervised by Mike Looker, former NorthTec carving tutor, who also took part in this morning’s ceremony.
The group assembled at the tomokanga for karakia, before going on to the marae where they were welcomed by Taipari Munro, Te Amorangi for NorthTec.
He told the group that the name for Te Puna o Te Huinga Manu was chosen because those passing through the tomokanga to the marae – new students, new staff and visitors – were the birds gathering to join NorthTec. They would also leave NorthTec via the tomokanga, to take their new skills and knowledge to the world.
“Their education will not only benefit them, it will also benefit their communities,” Taipari Munro said. “That is something we as Māori strive to achieve – our young people succeeding in education. It is those people who will help lift and maintain the strength and the growth and the development of our people and communities.”
The Level 6 Maunga Kura Toi students – Rawiri Timu (Student Project Manager), Johnny Butler, Tokorua Richards and Andre Pitman – worked on the carvings throughout 2020, completing them despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the lockdown. Their work represents the coming together of people on a journey to higher learning.