WUCEL's Māori Name

Our Māori Name—Te Toka Tū Moana

Te Toka Tū Moana translates as "the surf-beaten rock that stands firm in the ocean". The name is both a description of the WUCEL building and representative of the strong connections between land and sea that are the focus of much of our research. The WUCEL building has natural design elements that give the appearance of rising from the rocks of the Wellington south coast and allow it to merge with the landscape. The Māori name was suggested by Te Ripowai Higgins.

Our guardian—Rua-te-pupuke

This sculpture (right) is a symbolic guardian (kaitiaki) of the Laboratory and was carved by Tamatea Kopua in March 2009 using timber from the original WUCEL building.

See History for more information.

Crab gates

The original wrought iron 'crab' gates have now been refurbished, re-galvanised and reinstated at WUCEL. The gates were designed by Dr Bob Wear in the late 1980s and built by the physics mechanical workshop, overseen by Alan Hoverd. Each 'crab' is made up of around 50 separate pieces of strap metal carefully shaped and welded into place.

The design is based on the common pill box crab, Halicarcinus varius, found in the rock pools opposite the laboratory. Males and females rarely exceed 10 mm carapace width, and are common in sheltered intertidal areas hiding in algae, under rocks with algal cover, and also subtidally to about 30m in detritus and algal drift. The species is distributed throughout the North Island, South Island, Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands and is endemic to New Zealand.