A new identity

The University's new crest and shield embodies our values, our place in New Zealand, our bicultural heritage, and our history as a place of learning.

The new Māori name for the University is Te Herenga Waka, subject to further discussion with mana whenua. This is also the name of our marae and means the mooring place of canoes.

With its fully carved and beautifully decorated wharenui or meeting house, the first to be established in a New Zealand university, Te Herenga Waka has been at the heart of our University community for more than three decades.

We are proud of how our marae represents the iho, or essence, of our Māori identity at the University. The centrality of Te Herenga Waka as a place of teaching, learning and connection makes our University unique. As well as providing a link to our ancestors, it ties us to all the iwi of Aotearoa and across the Pacific. Like the University, it is a place where people from around the country and beyond can 'hitch their canoes' and find shelter. When people are ready to leave the University, they can unhitch their canoe and sail off to new horizons, while still maintaining a deep connection to Te Herenga Waka.

Niho taniwha—the teeth of a taniwha

Niho taniwha is a traditional Māori pattern that symbolises strength and unity. The individual triangles are said to depict hapū within an iwi, which are brought together in the pattern to represent unity.

The niho taniwha pattern is found in kowhaiwhai panels at the entrance to the wharenui at Te Herenga Waka, and in tukutuku panels inside. We have used this element in the logo to symbolise collective strength. When the individual triangles are put together, they represent unity, strength and community.

It is a fitting symbol for the University, where our multiple schools, faculties, and programmes create a whole with a shared sense of collective purpose.

Dark green downward-facing triangle design in three rows: 'niho taniwha', a traditional Māori pattern.
A dark green horizontal wavy line, a representation of water—Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the harbour of Tara

Te Whanganui-a-Tara—Wellington Harbour

Beneath the niho taniwha is a representation of water—Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the harbour of Tara. Having the niho taniwha close to the water locates the University in this harbour city of Wellington. Our Māori name also reflects the idea of coming to the city through the harbour and being anchored and firmly placed here.

Since 1897

The inclusion of the University’s establishment date of 1897 in the shield highlights our heritage and legacy. The University was founded as Victoria University College of the University of New Zealand; then becoming Victoria University of Wellington and merging with the Wellington College of Education.

Dark green shield with '1897' inset at top, and niho taniwha and the curved line symbolising water at bottom.

The ceremonial crest

The new shield has been incorporated into the ceremonial crest of the University for use on degree certificates and at special events such as graduation. The Lion representes the Duke of Wellington and symbolises the courage of conviction and the role of universities in society to speak truth to power. The Manaia is believed by Māori to be a guardian between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits.