Māori name for Otago Polytechnic's new Trades Training Centre

By Will Trafford

Otago Polytechnic’s new multi-million-dollar Trades Training Centre has been given an official name - He Toki Kai Te Rika.

Construction of the $31.7 million project, at the centre of Otago Polytechnic’s Forth St campus in Dunedin began in January 2021, and is expected to be ready for use by Semester 1, 2023.

He Toki Kai Te Rika translates as "A tool for your hand".

Kare Tipa, Otago Polytechnic mana whenua board representive and Kōmiti Kāwanataka member, explains why the name was chosen:

"In the time of our tīpuna (precolonisation), a toki (adze) gave great precedence to its owner. Differing kinds of toki gave effect to status; from the rangatira (chiefly) to the ware (commoner), toki were both used in informal and formal domains.

"Ceremonially, when a great tree was felled, toki were used to carve or to fashion a grand canoe (waka), or for the ridge-pole of the wharenui of a meeting house. The mauri (life force) within the tree felled carried the living embodiment of its deity Tāne Māhuta.

"Toki were also used as weapons, as well as in everyday, menial tasks such as gardening and cutting plant material. There are other forms of toki, too, including spades and garden hoes, which were fashioned for more specific tasks.

"In the context of the trades training centre, the use of "toki" situates the learner as having the tools or skills to perform a trade of their choice."

He Toki Kai Te Rika will employ around 200 tradespeople, construction managers and consultants, stimulating and supporting economic activity in the city and region according to chief executive Dr Megan Gibbons.

"The project is significant to both the local and national construction industry,"

"He Toki Kai Te Rika will be of international standard. It will provide an outstanding learning environment, offering modern learning facilities including common learning spaces, to meet industry and more sophisticated learner demands."

"We are honoured to have been gifted this name by rūnaka, with whom we have strong, ongoing relationships," Otago Polytechnic.