Waikato University crest

Department of
Computer Science
Tari Rorohiko

Computing and Mathematical Sciences

Computer Science 30 Year Celebration

Māori Artwork

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Waikato University Computer Science Department, five pieces of Māori artwork were commissioned. The artwork consists of four tukutuku panels and one kōwhaiwhai panel. A tukutuku panel is a traditional wall panel with coloured flax patterns woven on it. A kōwhaiwhai panel is a traditional rafter panel with a painted design on it. The artwork was undertaken by local Waikato and Ngāti Raukawa kuia, Reen Katipa.

The type of flax that was used is called kiekie (Freycinetia Baueriana). Kiekie is the favoured material with weavers, mostly used for tukutuku panels, kete whakairo (decorated baskets) and whāriki (mats). It is sourced from local bush in the summer, prepared over the autumn and winter seasons and then woven in the spring.

There are three separate displays of the artwork. The first consisting of three of the tukutuku panels, placed on the wall opposite the Computer Science office on the 1st floor of G Block. The two lower tukutuku panels represent the Poutama design, the steps of advancement and achievement and also the steps to enlightenment. The higher central tukutuku panel represents Ngā Kete O te Wānanga, the three baskets of knowledge. In Māori folklore all knowledge in the world was obtained when Tāwhaki (some say Tāne) climbed the heavens and received the three baskets from the supreme god. These he brought down to earth for the benefit of mankind. The central panel also contain the Roimata Turuturu design, incessant tears which pay homage to all those who have gone before us.

The tukutuku panels represent the quest for knowledge, a central purpose in the Computer Science Department. It acknowledges all those over the years who have made the department what it is today. And it also signifies the importance of students who are coming into the department (“the heavens”) to obtain the knowledge for use in their world.

Tukutuku Panels

Tukutuku Panels featuring Poutama, Ngā Kete e Toru, and Roimata Turuturu designs.

The second display represents the Niho Taniwha design, the teeth of the dragon. This pays homage to the Waikato iwi, within whose boundaries the department and the University are located. The design comes from the local saying; ‘he piko, he taniwha,’ which can be translated to: ‘at every bend (of the Waikato River) a dragon’ or ‘at every bend a chief’ . The tukutuku panel is located appropriated as it is beside the bend in the corridor (he piko), and it is also beside the office of the Chairman of Department (he taniwha).

Niho Taniwha Tukutuku Panel

Niho Taniwha Tukutuku Panel

The third and final display of artwork is the kōwhaiwhai panel located above the office window of the Computer Science Department. This is quite unique as it is a Māori design that has ASCII characters encoded into it. The characters spell out a message that says… well, maybe you should work that out for yourself.

Kōwhaiwhai Panel

Kōwhaiwhai Panel above Computer Science Office window

Māori Artwork Unveiling

On the 5th of December 2003, at 11:00am a ceremony was held to unveil the Māori artwork commissioned by the Computer Science Department to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Staff and families of the department and dignitaries from the University congregated at the Computer Science office. The ceremony began with a waerea (incantation) by John Haunui, a Waikato kaumātua. This was followed with a karakia (prayer) by Hare Puke, also a Waikato Kaumātua. The artwork was then unveiled by Bill Rogers, a long standing member of the department.

unveiling of artwork unveiling of artwork

Te Taka Keegan then gave an explanation of the artwork and its relevance to the Computer Science Department. This was followed by speeches from Hare Puke, the Vice Chancellor Bryan Gould, the Pro Vice Chancellor Māori Tāmati Reedy, and the acting Chairman of the Department, Geoff Holmes.

Invited guests/presenters/staff

Left to right: Mr Hare Puke; Mr John Haunui; Artist, Ms Reen Katipa; University Vice Chancellor, Professor Bryan Gould;
Acting Chairperson, Associate Professor Geoff Holmes; Senior Lecturer, Mr Bill Rogers

The ceremony concluded with everyone adjoining to the school tearoom to partake in a hāngī cooked by staff members of the Computer Science Department.