Te Pou Wānanga – The School of Sacred Learning
Tumu, the central beam containing within it the essence of all life. Tumu is also the body of the tree of life. Which from a Ngāti Awa perspective would have to be the “Kōwhai Taranga” which is the yellow pōhutukawa tree found only on Mōtītī Is. First discovered in 1940. I put the idea that the yellow pōhutukawa is the Māori perspective of the tree of life because we all know the Whero Taranga, or Te Pōhutukawa Whero (red pōhutukawa) is a symbol of death, where the yellow pōhutukawa is it’s opposite, a symbol of everlasting life. According to Ranapia family the burial site of the Ariki Ihorei (Supreme tōhunga) of Tainui and Te Arawa Ngātoro-i-rangi (meaning constant evolution) was buried close to the yellow pōhutukawa trees on Mōtītī Is. The Tumu was also said to be the act of Tānenuiārangiseparating his parents. That when he placed his shoulders to earth mother and his feet to sky father. He (Tāne) is the Tumu, centre body section of the sacred tree of life and for that moment bound heaven and earth as one. The word Tumu-herenga-waka comes from the notion that the tree stumps were cut 1.5 m off the ground so that waka (canoes) could be tied to that stump. Hence, the name Tumu was also given to Tumu Te Heuheu. Tumuwhakarae is the front section of the waka taua (war canoe). This term has been borrowed to articulate the CEO of modern companies today like Māori Television. When visitingRarotonga (2013) I learned from Papa Tangaroa Kainuku Te Āmaru last Tōhunga Ariki of Rarotonga the original name ofRarotonga was called Tumutevarovaro. In Māori we would say Tumutewarowaro. He explains (Papa Tangaroa, 2013) that Tumu was also another name for the supreme creator. He shares that Rarotonga was given that name because the island gave the people life, just like the creator. Warowaro means make a distinct sound or reverberate. The name Tumutewarowarocomes from the waves beating inwardly into the island of Rarotonga called Te Tumu. In Robyn Kāmira’s (2014) explanation Tai-horo-nuku-rangi has the same connotation but applied to the horizon, the place where the sky kisses the ocean. The Tumu is the life force that binds heaven and earth together. Rangi, the sky father, and Papa earth mother, hence, the name Tumurangiwhenua.
In Te Uira Henry’s (1971) book ancient Tahiti she reveals the name Tumura’ihenua (Tumurangiwhenua) as being the supreme protector of the entire Pacific Ocean taking on the form of a giant octopus. The tentacles of Tumura’ihenua describe the ancient pathways of the ancient Polynesian navigator. You can visually also see three sections in this art piece, Te Rangi(Sky), Te Ātea (Time and Space), Te Maunga (Mountains), Te Moana (Ocean) Te Whenua (Sacred Earth). Another way of looking at it, The Sky, The Air, The Ocean, The Mountains and The Land. These three sections represent Taputapuātea where sacred mauri (talismans) were brought from the original temple Whare Kura (in the heavens and upon earth and Hawaiki where the life force of Io-Taketake was placed in Taputapuātea. Which literally means, “a very sacred place/space. Taputapuātea is not only a Marae (praying stone plaza) but it is also the doorway to Ngā Rangi Tūhāhā (The Esoteric Spiritual Realms) of Io-Taketake. Hence, the fluid connection’s between, Tai-horo-nuku-rangi (where the horizon kisses the ocean), Taputapuātea (The three sacred elements of life) and Tumurangiwhenua (The tree of life that binds heaven and earth together. These are some of the meanings and explanations encapsulated in this art piece called “Te Whare-Wānanga Taketake ō Tumurangiwhenua. The term taketake is used because it indicates this house comes from Io-Taketake. Taketake means to be long established, original, ancient, own, lasting, aboriginal, native, indigenous, and sustainable. 73 mauri (talisman) will be placed on 73 different sacred mountains throughout the world and 73 mauri (talismans) will be returned home to Aotearoa. 35 have been placed and completed thus far. This is what makes this whare-wānanga different from any other whare-wānanga. The circle in the middle represents Te Ara o Tamanuiterā – The Pathway of the Sun and Ngā Rangi Tūhāhā (The Esoteric Spiritual Realms) that sits beyond the sacred marae of Taputapuātea.