The story behind the name

Te Taumutu Runanga gifted the name, Te Ara Ātea, to the community.

Te Ara Ātea means unobstructed trail to the world and beyond. The name expresses a notion that this is a place for learning, gathering, connecting, exploring and celebrating the district’s heritage and people.

Based near the south-eastern corner of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), Te Taumutu Rūnanga is one of the 18 papatipu rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu, the principal Māori iwi of Te Waipounamu (South Island).

Ngāi Tahu individuals exist within their whānau. That whānau lives within a clan, or groups of whānau known as a hapū. The various hapū, as a collective, unite as an iwi. Superimposed on that paradigm is the papatipu rūnanga structure. As such, papatipu rūnanga uphold the mana of their people over land, sea and resources.

Te Taumutu Rūnanga are the mana whenua in this region. Among their responsibilities, is to champion cultural traditions and stories. Hence the gifting of the name.

Te Ara Ātea reflects and recognises the building’s location within a network of traditional Ngāi Tahu settlements and mahinga kai areas on the central part of the Canterbury Plains. Of particular importance to this network are the trails that connect the many mahinga kai sites on the shores of Te Waihora and across the plains to the Waimakariri in the north and the foothills of the Southern Alps to the west.