New Maori name for Otago Polytechnic Trades Training Center


Otago Polytechnic’s multi-million dollar trades training center has been given an official name – He Toki Kai Te Rika.

“We are honored to be given this name by rūnaka, with whom we have a strong and ongoing relationship,” said Dr. Megan Gibbons, Chief Executive Officer of Otago Polytechnic.

He Toki Kai Te Rika translates to “A tool for your hand”.

Kare Tipa, Otago Polytechnic Mana Whenua board representative and member of Kōmiti Kāwanataka, explains why the name was chosen:

“In our tīpuna (pre-colonization) times, a toki (adze) gave high priority to its owner. Different types of toki gave effect to status; from rangatira (mainly) to ware (commoner), the toki was at the both used in informal and formal domains.

“Ceremonially, when a large tree was felled, toki were used to carve or shape a large canoe (waka), or for the cresting of the wharenui of a meeting house. The mauri (life force) within the felled tree bore the living incarnation of his deity Tāne Māhuta.

“The toki was also used as a weapon, as well as in everyday and menial tasks such as gardening and cutting plant material. There are also other forms of toki, including shovels and garden hoes, which have been designed for more specific tasks.

“In the context of the Trades Training Center, the use of “toki” situates the learner as having the tools or skills necessary to practice a trade of his choice.”

Construction of the $31.7 million He Toki Kai Te Rika project, at the heart of Otago Polytechnic’s Forth St campus in Dunedin, began in January 2021 and is expected to be ready for use by Semester 1 2023.

Stimulating and supporting economic activity in the city and region, He Toki Kai Te Rika will employ approximately 200 artisans, construction managers and consultants.

“The project is important to the local and national construction industry,” said Dr Gibbons.

“He Toki Kai Te Rika will be world-class. It will provide an exceptional learning environment, offering modern learning facilities, including common learning spaces, to meet the demands of industry and more sophisticated learners .”

Il Toki Kai Te Rika – Otago Polytechnic Trades Training Center:

– Located on the main Dunedin campus of Otago Polytechnic

– Total cost: $31.7 million ($28 million government investment – grant and loan as part of its infrastructure contingency)

– Construction work began in January 2021. Although time has been lost due to COVID 2021 lockdowns, the project team aims to have the building ready for occupancy by Semester 1 2023. Project strategies include early sourcing of materials

Interior work is underway for level 1

The next exciting step will be the delivery and construction of the laminated veneer lumber (LVL)

– Emphasis on sustainability includes adhering to Living Building Challenge (LBC) principles, as well as using laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and cross-laminated timber (CLT)

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