Our School's history

Learn about the history of Te Kawa a Māui and Te Herenga Waka Marae.

School of Māori Studies

Nau mai, haere mai ki Te Kawa a Māui. Welcome to the School of Māori Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. As a part of the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences we offer a broad range of courses in te reo, tikanga and Māori society through to PhD level.

We welcome enquiries from potential undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as researchers, academics and others interested in wishing to establish connections with academic and research staff in the School. Our academic staff come from a range of disciplines and are actively engaged in a variety of research projects.

Our website provides information about our programmes: Tohu Māoritanga, Undergraduate Study and Postgraduate Study. We hope that you find the information you are seeking and if you would like further information please contact us.

Beginning of Māori Studies

Māori Studies became a stand-alone department in 1978 on the appointment of the first Professor of Māori Studies, Hirini Moko Mead. Prior to this, Māori Studies had been part of the Department of Anthropology.

Soon after his appointment, Professor Mead, his staff and students set about developing the Māori Studies academic programme. By 1980 the marae, Te Herenga Waka, had been established as an integral part of the discipline of Māori Studies. This was the first marae on any university campus in the country.

In the late 1980s Cook Islands Studies and Samoan Studies were established within Māori Studies and in 2000 Pacific Studies was also added. At this time, Te Kawa a Māui was known as the School of Māori, Pacific and Samoan Studies. In 2005 Va'aomanū Pasifika was established and Pacific and Samoan Studies became a stand-alone centre.

Māori Studies also established the University’s kohanga reo and whānau houses.

Te Herenga Waka Marae

Te Kawa a Māui has close links with the University marae - Te Herenga Waka. Although it is now a separate unit in the University, the marae was originally created and developed by Māori Studies to be a facility for the teaching and learning needs of Māori Studies students and to be a space on campus where tikanga Māori prevails. A number of our Māori Studies courses are focused on marae administration. A range of other courses are taught in the marae space.

Beginning of Te Herenga Waka Marae

In 1980, Te Herenga Waka Marae was established at 36 Kelburn Parade but was later relocated to 46 Kelburn Parade. As such, Victoria University of Wellington was the first University to establish a marae. It is very much a University community-based marae and has associations to most, if not all, iwi. Our carved meeting house, Te Tumu Herenga Waka, was opened with great ceremony in 1986 and has become the Māori centre-piece to support the University's academic scholarship.

The marae is the University centre of tikanga, te reo and manaakitanga Māori. It is used as a teaching facility by Māori Studies and other schools within the University. Lunch is available four days a week during the academic year and provides student study space and a computer room - Te Whanake Mauri Tū. Many students take part in welcoming, hosting and farewelling manuhiri at the marae.

As a student, this marae belongs to you. Nau mai, haere mai.

Find out more about Te Herenga Waka Marae