Te Toka Kāmaka o Waipārūrū

The soul of the University of Auckland Business School.


In the entrance of the Sir Owen G Glenn Building of the University of Auckland Business School stands a sculptural artwork that embodies a thousand years of traditional thought on life and knowledge.

The centrepiece of the artwork is the Pounamu Kahurangi, a rare form of jade or greenstone blessed with the name Te Toka Kāmaka o Waipārūrū. It is the mauri or life essence of the Business School and its wairua or spirit, protects traditional Māori values in all ceremonies that take place in the building and its environs, and also the values associated with higher learning and knowledge.

Te Toka Kāmaka o Waipārūrū represents the strength and solidity of the School, symbolically linking manuhiri or visitors, students and staff, the past and the present and the North and South Islands.

In Māori, toka moana refers to a staunch rock in wild seas and kāmaka is a foundation stone; Te Toka Kāmaka being the foundation of great value, symbolically reflecting the links between sea and land with sacredness and power. Waipārūrū, commonly known as Grafton Gulley where the Business School is located, is the valley and stream that once tumbled down to the Waitematā Sea. The building receives its mana or power from the valley and cascading waters, while at the same time giving mana back to Waipārūrū.

Pounamu is highly valued in Aotearoa New Zealand for its intrinsic tapu or sacredness and vitality. It is treasured for its strength, durability and beauty. Jade is also regarded the most noble of gems in Chinese culture. It is said to possess the five essential virtues of Chinese philosophy: compassion, modesty, courage, justice and wisdom, qualities that are foundational in Māori thought also.

The body of the sculpture, depicts "He tangata, he rangatira", a high ranking rangatira or leader wearing a ceremonial korowai or cloak, its shoulders of a softer serpentine stone support the treasured pounamu as the most sacred part of the human body, the roro or brain. The sculptural piece was made by two Māori artists, a master pounamu carver, Mike Mason, and artist designer Carin Wilson.