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Former students and staff gathered at the distinctive building on the Manawatū campus for a powhiri and to reminisce over lunch. Massey Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas praised the impact Te Pūtahi-a-Toi had had not only on the lives of the many students to pass through it, but also the enormous ripple effect out into communities. “The effect has been so powerful I can hardly put words to it,” she said.
Over the years Te Pūtahi-a-Toi has been at the heart of Massey’s Māori programmes including Māori studies, Te Reo Māori, Māori Visual Arts and more recently total immersion kura kaupapa teaching programmes.
As one of the founders of the school, Emeritius Professor Sir Mason Durie spoke of the struggles to get the complex built, but said more important than the building itself was the name of the building. It was inspired by a part of the Manawatū river where the Oroua river joins it, referred to as ‘te pūtahitanga o ngā awa o Manawatū. “We talk about this notion of bringing things together and Te Pūtahi-a-Toi is really bringing strands of knowledge together,” Sir Mason said.
He suggested the mission to bring knowledge together could see the school look different at its next 20-year celebration in 2037. “Although one or two of us might have to send an apology, what we might find is that Te Pūtahi-a-Toi will become a centre where the knowledge of Mātauranga Māori and the knowledge of science and the knowledge of business and the knowledge of history can all interact together, so we have a new knowledge base which is not divided into little bits, but which is a comprehensive whole that we can use to address the future world we are going to live in.”
Current Head of School, Professor Meihana Durie says that the day offered a critical opportunity to reflect on the significance of the kaupapa. “The opening of Te Pūtahi-a-Toi in 1997 was an occasion marked by an extraordinary sense of optimism about the future of Māori development. As we navigate the next 20 years ahead of us, we remain fully optimistic about what the future holds and importantly, we move forward having acknowledged all those who have contributed to Māori development over the past two decades through their association with Te Pūtahi-a-Toi.”
Looking ahead, Professor Durie believes the foundation laid at Te Pūtahi-a-Toi offers a springboard for new opportunities. “The future requires us to find new ways to ensure that our teaching and research remains relevant, responsive and attuned to the needs of the communities that we serve. But we must also be courageous in seeking out new knowledge and new frontiers that can propel the continuum of Māori knowledge forwards. And it will require us to be inclusive, to take people with us on the next stage of the journey where new knowledge and new ideas flourish and where the highest aspirations can be realised.”
Created: 07/12/2017 | Last updated: 15/12/2017
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Watch stunning aerial footage of Massey University's Manawatū campus.