"Where there is light, there is life and people"
The refresh of the old Union Dining Hall at The University of Otago embodies more than just a new look.
CEO Blog August 2023
Mana Ahurea was approached by Campus Development at The University of Otago to be involved in the building refurbishment of the Union Dining Hall.
The former Union Dining Hall was in need of a refresh to create a more relaxing and interactive space for students that can be converted into a venue for evening events. The need for change was sparked by conversations from consultants and the Otago Students Association, who both said students did not really have anywhere to “get away from it all’ on campus.
This feedback was enough to evoke conversations with our manawhenua panel, around traditional gatherings for Kāi Tahu Māori. There was opportunity for us to involve some cultural visualisations and for a new name of the area, and it was discussed and approved by manawhenua to use Auahi Ora, which comes from a whakatauki recorded by Herries Beattie around 1920.
“e auahi, e aumoana, aua tonu atu” which can be interpreted as ‘smoke of a fire is a sign of life, smoke at sea, who knows’ that can be transferred to modern day as well ‘Where there is light, there is life and people”.
Ahi (Fire) was traditionally used to signal ocupation of the whenua but also as a gathering place to share stories, sing, dance, and connect socially. These concepts of fire and life drive the visual design for this space.
Work began in October 2022 and Auahi Ora was completed in February. Mana Ahurea’s design assistant and contempary artist, Aroha Novak (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Kahungunu) created the designs.
We hear that the space is now being well utilised and one of our team overheard students using the name when setting up their catch-up. Hearing te reo Māori being adopted easily is uplifting to hear and is a step toward achieving manawhenua aspriations of integrating our stories and reo into everyday life in Otago.
“ e auahi, e aumoana, aua tonu atu” which can be interpreted as ‘smoke of a fire is a sign of life, smoke at sea, who knows’ that can be transferred to modern day as well ‘Where there is light, there is life and people”.
– Whakatauki recorded by Herries Beattie c1920.
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We act with integrity, responsibility, and authority, reflective of the mana and rakatirataka of the manawhenua we work on behalf of.
We are inclusive and cooperative: with rūnaka, whānau, kaimahi stakeholders, partners and clients.
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