TE TUATA O MATAKANOHI
In pre-European times, local chiefs often erected a Tuata, a carved ceremonial post, at the edge of bird hunting forests and cultivations to indicate that these lands were protected and its resources safeguarded to sustain the local community for health and sustenance.
In this context, this Tuata has been carved not only to commemorate the ancient history of this area but to protect the school and its resources and the values of the land and its community that are still important today.
The following text explains the Maori history of the Matakanohi and the significance of the carved Tuata.
The figure with the full moko and grasping a ko (digging implement) atop of this Tuata is named Hotumauea after a famous warlord and chief who had manawhenua during the late 1600s over the lands on which Vardon School is sited. The design and elements of this drawing is based on an ancient carving believed to be attributed to an ancient pa named Kaitotehe, near Taupiri,which is now in the Auckland Museum.
Hotumauea was described as being an exceptionally tall and athletic warrior, envied by his in-laws because of his feats of athleticism. He was an exceptionally fast runner and competed in the traditional Maori sports and hand to hand combat.
During Hotumauea's lifetime, he divided his lands up to his descendants. Sections of them became noted gardeners, forming large cultivations and nearby papakainga (small hamlets) in his locality to tend to these cultivations. When Hotumauea died, his body was taken by canoe down the Waikato River to Taupiri, up the Komakorau Stream, and was finally buried at Karamu Pa (Gordonton), next to his relative Hanui. One of Hotumauea's descendants was Parengaope, the mother of Potatau Te Wherowhero, the first Maori King. The Hue represents a gourd that was a receptacle for water and food items. The Hue is symbolic of the library and information centre of the school as a place that feeds the mind.
Hotumauea represents strong qualities of leadership. He also represents the important role of future leaders as teachers and repositories of traditional knowledge and lore. At his feet is a kete of kumara and other crops, symbolising the seeds of knowledge and substance as part of the educational values of Vardon School.
The midsection is called Kauhanga, an ancient Waikato word that is used to describe the central hulI of a canoe. The Kauhanga was often adzed with rippling patterns. The Kauhanga represents the journeys of people from the four winds of the world that now attend Vardon School.
Taratara, the zig-zag patterns along the edge of the Tuata symbolises whakapapa to the land and people's connections to the local area, and the school as a strong focal point of the community. The painted pattern at the base of the Tuata is based upon the traditional Taniko border patterns found on the bases of the Kaitaka cloaks worn by high-ranking chiefs. The design of Taniko pattern chosen is from a cloak worn by fully tattooed Ngati Koura chief, who lived at Pukete pa prior to the land wars, named Te Roore Tatangi, a direct descendant of Hotumauea, who died in 1899. This Taniko pattern portrays the threads of knowledge and admiration of educational achievement. The Tuata is painted in the ancient replicated ochre colours extracted locally from the Waiwherowhero Stream that would have been used in pre-European times by the local inhabitants of this area.
Vardon School Board of Trustees wishes to acknowledge Hare Puke and Wiremu Puke of Ngati Wairere for the development of the concept behind the carving. This Tuata was blessed in accordance with Tainui kawa, (protocol), on May 17, 2007, in the presence of Kaumatua, (elders).
Tihei Mauri Ora!