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'Manawanui' Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Commissioned by Tauranga City Council this mural is a message to the students & an acknowledgement of the rich cultural history of the area. The Kūaka (bar-tailed Godwit) stands proudly as a symbol of perseverance & persistence, this migrating bird arrives in Tauranga each year to feed while travelling on one of the longest migration flights in the world. It is a tohu (sign) for the students to continue to persevere & persist in their journey towards a greater education & a brighter future.

Our inspiration for the design components is a combination of the name of the institute 'Toi Ohomai' gifted by local iwi & the Māori myths & legends of the geographical area.

Toi is the pinnacle of achievement. It inspires the pursuit of excellence. It is also a reference to Toi-te-huatahi and Toi Kai-rākau – a common eponymous ancestor of iwi across the region. Ohomai is an awakening, to be alert and to create a shift in mindset. It is moving from a place of disillusionment to enlightenment and becoming transformed. It is also a reference to Ohomairangi, an eponymous ancestor of Te Arawa and Tainui. The background designs help support this korero and help direct those attending Toi Ohomai to this constant pursuit of growth, focus & transformation - a message to aim high with the movement focussed towards the heavens!

Stories say that there were once three mountains that lived in the Hautere forest overlooking Tauranga Moana. One was Otanewainuku who still stands there today adorned with the tallest trees and beautiful birds. There was also the female mountain Puwhenua, a beautiful hill, clothed in the finest ferns, shrubs and trees of the forest of Tane. The other was a maunga pononga or a nameless mountain.

The nameless mountain was desperately in love with Puwhenua. However, her heart already belonged to Otanewainuku. There seemed like no hope for the nameless one who decided to end it all by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, Te Moananui a Kiwa. Calling on the patupaiarehe, the people with magical powers, the nameless one asked them to plait a magical rope and then haul him down towards the ocean. Chanting, they began to haul the nameless one slowly towards the sea, gouging out the valley where the Waimapu River now flows. The name means ‘weeping waters’ and is so named after this journey to the sea. The path also created the channel which flows past Tauranga City out to the ocean.

By the time they reached the ocean it was very close to day break. The sun rose fixing the nameless one to that place. Being people of the night, the patupaiarehe fled back to the shady depths of forests but not before giving the name Mauao to this mountain which marks the entrance of Tauranga Moana. Mauao means ‘caught by the morning sun’. That is how Mauao got his name.

The Waimapu river is symbolised through the blue rectangle that sits under the shadow of the great mountains. The red one 'Otanewainuku' burns with love & today shares that passion with the people of the local area as Mauao. The black rectangular shape acknowledges the coastline & harbours situated in this area.

Thank you to Michaela Blackman for all of your help getting this off the ground & to the first response team on site for your help with our baby girl.

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