About Us
Whare Wananga - Kimihia Te Matauraunga

Te Puke High School Whare Wanaga - Kimihia Te Matauraunga is situated in a prominent position in the centre of our school overlooking the playing fields and with views of the coast at Maketu.

Whare Wananga literally translates to House of Learning in English.  It is the modern day equivalent of a traditional Maori Whare WanangaTraditional Whare Wananga  were used to educate selected groups of people.  In constrast, our Whare Wanaga - Kimihia Te Matauraunga, is a place of learning for all students who wish to learn more about things Maori.

The History of our Whare Wanaga - Kimihia Te Matauraunga

Kimihia Te Matauraunga means “strive to attain the highest educational qualifications for you”.   This is a befitting name for a school based marae.

Construction of Kimihia Te Matauraunga began in October 1981.   A committee was formed focussed on: planning the construction, gaining builiding consents and permits and fundraising.  In addition to the fundrach of the twelve local marae made a financial contribution towards the construction of the whare.  The whare was designed and constructed under the guidance of Mr Peter Vercoe, who was the Head of the Technology Department at the time.

On 21 March 1982, a Karakia was held by Rev Patariki Hiini, who stated that the purpose of the proposed Whare Wananga:

  • That it should be a meeting place for all Maori and Pakeha students, a place for the whole school to come together for each member to learn more about the other's culture, traditions and customs.

  • That it should be a reminder to all members of the school community of the significance in society of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Maori people.

  • That it should be a focal point for the Maori Language Teaching Programme and for Kapa Haka in the school.


It took seven years to complete the design and construction of the internal carvings, tukutuku panels and decorations.

On 9 November 1989, Kimihia Te Matauraunga was officially opened by Chance Mikaere, who was the Chairman of Te Puke High School Board of Trustees (1989).


Exterior Carvings

The Maihi and Amo were carved  from Totara by Alex Mikaere and show the journey of young people from Kohanga Reo (Pre-School), through Primary, Intermediate and Secondary Schools and beyond in their search for knowledge. 

Knowledge is depicted by the scroll held by the supreme god (The Tekoteko).


Internal Carvings and Tukutuku Panels

The fourteen Poupou inside the whare represent the waka that sailed from Hawaiki to Aotearoa. The first poupou on each side are that of Te Arawa, showing Tamateakapua and his wife Whakaotirangi. All Poupou were carved by Alec Mikaere and students of Te Puke High School from 1982 to 1989.

The first set of Tukutuku panels were designed and constructed by Laurel Mikaere.  She constructed traditional taniko patterns of Aramoana, Patiki, Purapura Whetu and Poutama, using modern plastic cord.



A mural, design by Con Emery (Head of Art Department at the time) was painted on the back wall of the old whare by tweleve students.  The mural depicted the landing of the Te Arawa canoe at Maketu, after e construction consortium to develop master plans for our school campus. One of the major challenges to building on the school site was the nature of the geological substrate at the upper end of the school adjacent to Cameron Road.  This restricted the height of buildings in this area to being single-storey only.  Due to the congested nature of our campus, the new building layout covered areas where a number of our current buildings were sited, including our Wharenui. As a result, the redevelopment plans required the demolition of many buildings and the relocation of the Wharenui.

Starting in Term Four 2012, the redevelopment of much of our school began.  On 24 September 2012 a special karakia ceremony was held for our school WharenuiReverend Rereamanu Wihapi and Tohunga Pouroto Ngaropo led the ceremony to honour and bless our school’s Wharenui prior to the removal of all carvings and panels in preparation for resting Kimihia Te Matauraunga, while the campus was being rebuilt.  During the deconstruction, the mural was unable to be transferred into the new whare.

From September to December 2013, all fourteen Poupou and the external Whakairo were restored by local tohunga whakairo (master carver) Dean Flavell and Noel McAllister.  Tukutuku panels were refurbished by Kirikowhai Stevens and Claudine Waitere (Head of Maori).  In addition, four new Tukutuku panels were designed and constructed by Kirikowhai Stevens and Claudine Waitere in accordance with the pattern and story of the original Tukutuku panels.  With help from some students, Okeroa Waaka, Awatea Waaka, Maharini Walters and Jada Schindler, traditional fibers (Harakeke, Pingao, Keikei) were sourced, cut, dyed, dried and sorted.  The new Tukutuku panels incorporated the designs of  Niho Taniwha, Patiki, Aramoana  and Cheveron.  Three of the original Tukutuku panels that were removed and put in storage in 2000 were damaged beyond repair.  These were buried in the foundations of the new site for our whare wananga.

In October 2013, a karakia ceremony was led by Reverend Rereamanu Wihapi to lay the foundations of the new Whare Wananga.  A set bibles were placed in a steel box and buried beneath the central pole of the whare, along with the three damaged Tukutuku panels.

From December 2013 to January 2014, Kimihia Te Matauraunga was reconstructed in the centre of our school overlooking the playing fields and with views of the coast at Maketu.  The restored Poupou, Whakairo and Tuktuku were reinstalled.  Kowhaiwhai designs were added to the doorway and windows of the Wharenui.

On 29 January 2014, a dawn karakia was lead by the school's kaumatua, Rev Rereamanu Wihapi and Pouroto Ngaropo to bless Kimihia Te Matauraunga.  New Year 9 student, Kiriwera Ririnui, was given the honour of opening the doors of our newly refurbished wharenui.  Later that morning, Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki and co-leader of the Maori Party unveil a plaque to commemorate the reopening of Kimihia Te Matauraunga.

Click on the following images to access more information on the blessing and reopening of Kimihia Te Matauraunga.



Nga Pou Whakairo (Internal Carvings)

The fourteen Pou Whakairo, designed by Alex Mikaere, represent the tribal canoes and chiefs who commanded them.

TamaTe Kapua
Captain of the Te Arawa waka

Whakaoti Rangi
Wife of Tama Te Kapua

Commander of Tainui waka
(Waikato and King Country)

Tohunga on board the Tainui waka 


Commander of Takitumu waka
(Tauranga, Katikati, Waihi, Mauganui, Papamoa and Hastings)

Priest of the Te Aratawhao waka Hoaki - Tohunga
(West coast of the South Island)


Commander of Mataatua waka

Guardian Kinekorako/Kahukura
phases of the moon



Captain Cook
Represents all people born in other countries who are now living in New Zealand


Commander of Tahatuna waka
Te Aowhaingaroa-Tohunga
(Hawkes Bay)

Commander of Tokomaru waka
(East Coast)


Commander of Aotea waka
Te Kapuatoru-Tohunga
(south of Whanganui and Otaki)

(Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu)