Victoria’s Māori name

The origin of Victoria University of Wellington’s Māori name.

Victoria University of Wellington's Māori name is Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui.

The name orginates from the University Council’s decision in the early 1990s to consult with Wellington iwi on an appropriate Māori name for the University.

The University’s Treaty of Waitangi Consultative Group consulted widely with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission), Māori academics and prominent Māori leaders. A number of alternatives were considered.

In December 1994 the Council accepted the Group’s recommended names believing it to be one that Māori, students, staff and the wider community would readily identify with.

The first part of the name, Te Whare Wānanga, translates as “the place or house of higher learning” and is a phrase now widely used by universities in New Zealand. The second part of the name says that the University is located “at the head of the fish of Māui”. This derives from Māori legend that tells the story of a Polynesian explorer, Māui, who hauled up the North Island of Aotearoa from the sea using a magic fishhook.