Sharing the stories

UC Cultural Narrative


Naming of buildings

Building names gifted to the University by Tūāhuriri help to create our distinctiveness in a way that reflects both the ideology of the University and also the mana of the Tūāhuriri, Ngāi Tahu and Māori as part of a global community.


Matariki marked the start of the Maori New Year around mid-winter, a time when crops were harvested, and seafood and birds that had been collected were stored away. This ecological shift in season marks the new year with a celebration of new life and new beginnings.

Puaka-James Hight 

The star Puaka also known as regil, a blue-white star in Orion, has important significance to Ngāi Tahu as it marks the end of the mutton bird and eel season. These species are still gathered today as a staple of the Ngāi Tahu people during festive events. Puaka is the Māori name given to the central library.


Rehua is spoken of as a chief among stars. It is associated with wellness, healing and leadership, as well as the bright star in the sky that signals the start of summer. Rehua will house the College of Education, Health and Human Development, Executive Programmes and the Centre for Entrepreneurship. 


Haere-roa is the name of the stream that flows through the campus. It reflects the importance of sustenance and manaakitanga of the ancestors who would travel from Kaiapoi to Rapaki, a place they stopped to contemplate, replenish and prepare for the next part of their journey. Haere-roa is the name gifted to the UC Student’s Association for their new building which will become a vibrant heart for the UC student experience

Whatukura and Tāwhaki

The story of Tāwhaki and his ascent through the heavens in pursuit of knowledge is well known throughout Te Ao Maori. Whatukura is the term used to describe the sacred stones used by the tohunga to represent ancestral knowledge, and also refers to the wise council of tohunga who reside in the top most heaven. The central atrium of the new Ernest Rutherford science building is named Whatukura to illustrate this story.