Rauaroha – korowai

At the beginning of 2014 we commissioned expert weaver Veranoa Hetet (Te Atiawa) to create a korowai (cloak) to represent outstanding tertiary education practice at the highest national level. The korowai - named Rauaroha - was completed in July and presented to Dr Karyn Paringatai (University of Otago), the winner of the 2014 Prime Minister's Supreme Award for the national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards (now known as Te Whatu Kairangi).

This was the starting point for a new tradition. Since then the korowai has been placed on the shoulders of all subsequent winners of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award.

The story of Rauaroha

The karakia (ancient invocation), Te Hokai, tells the story of how Tāne-nui-ā-rangi climbed to the uppermost of the twelve heavens to obtain the three baskets of knowledge – te Kete Tuauri (sacred knowledge), te Kete Tuatea (ancestral knowledge) and te Kete Aronui (life's knowledge).

When he reached the entrance to the uppermost heaven, Tikitiki-o-Rangi, Tāne was met by the spiritual beings that guard its doorway. After undergoing a ceremony, Tāne was guided to Io (the supreme being) who questioned him about the reason for his visit. Tāne was then taken to a place called Rauaroha, the home of the male and female beings of Tikitiki-o-Rangi, where he underwent ritual ceremonies to prepare him to receive the knowledge.

The name Rauaroha has therefore been chosen for the korowai that will be worn by each recipient of the annual Prime Minister’s Supreme Award, as it is a chiefly garment that recognises the mana of the award and the person who receives it.

Making Rauaroha

Te Atiawa weaving expert Veranoa Hetet constructed Rauaroha entirely from muka (flax fibre) and bird feathers. It took six months to complete and is the result of painstaking and fastidious work.

Rauaroha has been created using traditional methods handed down through six generations of Veranoa’s whānau. Veranoa says korowai are made to last and are based on the longevity of similarly created Māori chiefly garments, meaning Rauaroha will last for more than three hundred years.

Ako Aotearoa acknowledges Veranoa’s contribution to Te Whatu Kairangi. 

Related Content

Te Whatu Kairangi Award | Le Moana Mua winner Filoi Genevieve Togiaso and Ako Aotearoa Board Chair Derek McCormack

Enter the Awards

Learn more about the award categories and criteria, and how to submit an entry.

TWK 2023 awardee collage

Awardee Community

Since 2007, the awards have celebrated over 276 outstanding tertiary educators.