The carved paepae
This carved paepae was a personal gift from Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu to the university and the Law School.
The timber for this piece of carving came from the tahahi (ridgepole) of the whare whakairo (meeting house) at Waahi,which was originally carved by Patara Te Tuhi for Tāwhiao,the second Māori King. When the house was dismantled in 1965, the totara timber was put in storage for some years.
This carving was started in 1981 and completed in 1985 at Waahi Pa. Supervision of this project was undertaken by one of Tainui’s master carvers, Taonui-a-Kupe Rickard. This carving comprises eight main figures representing the sacred canoes which sailed to Aotearoa in 1 350AD.
From east to west, the first figure represents Te Arawa, the second Mātaatua, the third Tākitimu, the fourth Tokomaru, the fifth Kurahaupé, the sixth Aotea. The seventh is Ngatokimatawhaorua and the eighth, Horouta. At the east end of the Rākau is the face of a mānaia welcoming the coming of a new day. The mandia at the west end faces the setting sun and pays homage to the day's end as evening approaches. The whole Rakau represents Tainui welcoming, embracing and giving full support, blessing and last but not least giving assurance to the descendants of the sacred canoes represented. The small figurehead in the centre of the Rākau represents the descendants of all those canoes and the young generation of tomorrow who will enter this Law School to search, to seek, to find, to question, to learn and to further their knowledge. The background interlinking the manaia coincides with the whakapapa (genealogy) of the sacred canoes. It links, it binds, strengthens and uplifts the kaupapa (principles) on which the Law School is founded.
The name of the carving is Te Rākau Kotahi. Literally this means ‘the one tree’ but refers to ‘the tree of knowledge’ or ‘the tree of wisdom’ tree of unity, in all of its aspects, one of the most powerful and central conceptual values of the Maori ethos, combining all the strands and components of history, time and culture of all the peoples of Aotearoa.
The carving was moved to the new building sunken courtyard on the Management side of the building.