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Kōrero Tuku Iho

In 1975 our school was known for some time as Mangere No. 2 Secondary School, and the name Nga Tapuwae was chosen after much thought and considerable research. The name Nga Tapuwae is an ancient one in the area in which the school is located. It was originally given to the Pukaki Lagoons - Nga Tapuwae o Mataoho. They are named from the fact that the Volcano god Mataoho passed this way and left his footprints which are now the lagoons.

A second meaning can also be applied, Nga Tapuwae o Nga Tupuna – the footsteps of the ancestors, including such people as Potatau Te Wherowhero (the first Maori King) who lived in the area. A Tapuwae is an incantation (karakia) to ensure fleetness of foot either in intellectual pursuits or athletic prowess.

The beautiful Totara tree which stands by the swimming pool is our pride and joy. In former times, this area was a gathering place for Tainui and other hapu when going to other iwi for feasting during the times when certain crops were in season. In passing, this place was aptly named ‘Nga Tapuwae’ – as in the footsteps of the ancestors – nga tapuwae o nga tupuna. Many unsuccessful attempts were made to fell the tree for the building of the Community centre and the swimming pool. Although the tree is tapu it can be touched and is admired by all.


The school ‘motto’ is INA TE MAHI HE RANGATIRA – By deeds a chief is known. This well known proverb exhorts the lazy and encourages the diligent which is very suitable for a learning establishment. The original monogram had two explanations which were designed by the late Hone Pirihi a foundation teacher of Nga Tapuwae College:


  • The step patterns signifies the stairway to heaven, the three huia feathers represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  • The stairway to knowledge – success, and the feathers representing chiefly qualities – leadership, kinship and prosperity.


Te Kura Maori o Nga Tapuwae has returned to the original ideas of Hone Pirihi and added ‘Nga Niho Taniwha’ patterns which are designs specifically from Mana whenua – Tainui.

The four toed footprints have been added to pay homage to all the people who have passed on and who worked tirelessly over two decades to ensure our new school status – wharekura.

The footprints are images that can be seen in the carved crest which graces our Administration Block. The original crest was carved by Mr Te Kani-a-Takirau Poata from kauri wood donated by Mrs Thelma (Del) Wihongi of Ngati Hine descent, in 1979. The carver is the godfather of the present Tumuaki Arihia Stirling.


Te Kura Maori o Nga Tapuwae was first founded in 1996 when three schools, Nga Tapuwae College, Mangere Intermediate and Southern Cross Primary were amalgamated onto the original Nga Tapuwae College and Mangere Intermediate school sites. With the formation of these schools Southern Cross Campus was formed. Te Kura Maori o Nga Tapuwae’s own school status began in 1997 with the appointment of its own director.


In January 2011 we were granted our own school status and opened our doors as a school in its own right. This was a momentus occasion celebrated on Thursday 3rd February 2011 with a Dedication Service attended by many dignitaries. We are enjoying the change in status and look forward to the many fruitful years ahead.

"Ko tōku Wharekura e tū mai ana i te papatika o
Te Waiohua e,
Ko Te Kei o
Te Waka o Tainui e!"

"Ka puta te waiora i tōku whare Te Whare Wānanga pupuri kōrero o Ngā Tapuwae.

E ko te Aitanga-ā-Tiki e haere ake nei.

Tihei Mauri ora."

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