Cultural Narrative

The naming of the school

We were gifted the name Te Kura O Take Kārara by Ngāi Tahu. Take Kārara is a historic name for a location that is very close to where our school sits. The site is clearly shown on the famous map drawn by H.K. Taiaroa in 1880 which detailed many of the names for the region that are in use today. 

The Ngāi Tahu Atlas, Kā Huru Manu, describes Take Kārara as a kāinga nohoanga, or settlement, at the southern end of Lake Wānaka. During the 1879 Smith-Nairn Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Ngāi Tahu land claims, Take Kārara was described as a kāinga mahinga kai, or food gathering site, where pora, mahetau, tuna (or eels) and weka were gathered. 

The Ngāi Tahu kaumatua Tahu Potiki, who sadly died in 2019, provided greatly valued advice and wisdom to our Board as they developed the initial statement of vision and values for the school, and his deep knowledge of our local history assisted significantly in the choice of Te Kura O Take Kārara as the name of our new school. 

The naming of the buildings

It has been the Board’s wish to form an ongoing partnership with Ngāi Tahu. Having been gifted our name, we also received advice from Bubba Thompson, our Ngāi Tahu advisor from Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff, about Mahinga Kai and it’s importance to Ngāi Tahu. 

Mahinga Kai is said to be, the “DNA of Ngai Tahu”, it is currency and an integral part of their identity. While the natural resources and the places from where they were gathered are important, so too are the understandings and customs that sit alongside these. It is not just about the kai in our pukus. Also important to Mahinga Kai is: 

  • Understanding – the landscape and the ecological systems
  • Knowledge – of where to gather food, how much to take, what different places can provide
  • Whanaungatanga – the development of relationships between communities as traditionally, people moved around and helped each other out – this always involved a journey, and marriage often helped bond these ties
  • Maanaki – the customs (tikanga) of giving to guests/ whanau, giving away your best, and giving even if you have nothing left for you 
  • Kaitiakitanga – guardianship, and the importance of managing and protecting the land by treading lightly. This is about thriving by maintaining things that sustain and nourish us and that support wellbeing such as clean water, soil, and shelter. 
  • Papatuanuku from the Māori Creation Story. Papatuanuku is the land. She is a mother earth figure who gives birth to all things, including people. Trees, birds and people are born from the land, which then nourishes them
  • Living life according to the seasons – closely following the life cycles of plants and animals
  • Interconnectedness and interrelationship of all living and nonliving things – it is a cycle … you are born of earth, and you eventually go back to the earth

Mahinga Kai is seen as more than food – it is kai for the ears, kai for knowledge, kai for the soul, kai for storytelling – indeed it is food for life.

This deep understanding of Mahinga Kai provides us with many great opportunities for discovery and for learning at Te Kura O Take Kārara through place-based learning, environmental and sustainability learning, and cultural responsiveness, and importantly it supports us to strengthen our bond with Ngai Tahu

Bubba supported us with the naming of the buildings in our school and the foods gathered at Take Karara were an obvious fit for these. The beautiful manifestations on our windows depicting these food sources were created by the talented Ngāi Tahu artist Simon Kaan

Tuna – Year 1 and 2 

Tī Kōuka – Year 3 and 4 

Weka – Year 5 and 6 

Te Pataka was chosen as the name for our Administration building, as this can be seen as a storehouse of knowledge, pukapuka (books), and resources, as well as a place to eat kai. 

The opening and blessing of our buildings led by Ngāi Tahu

Bubba Thompson officially opened the school by returning the original sod that had been dug up in March 2019 prior to building works commencing to it’s resting place in front of the new school hall.

Matua Bubba, along with Matua Dean and Whaea Evelyn Cook also from Ngāi Tahu led the students, staff and parents around the school, blessing each building before entering the hall for speeches and kai.

As Matua Dean led the children into the school hall for the first time these words were said … 

Matua Dean: Mā wai te whare?  Who is this place for?

Children: Mā tatau. It is for all of us. 

Matua Dean: Mā te aha te whare?  What is this place for?

Children: Mā te ako.  It is for learning.  

Matua Dean: He aha te ingoa o te kura?  What is the name of this kura/school? 

Children: Take Kārara