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Education Minister to open award-winning new UC building

Education Minister to open award-winning new UC building

The Minister of Education Chris Hipkins will officially open the University of Canterbury’s award-winning Rehua building on Tuesday 25 June.

Rehua brings the College of Education, Health and Human Development from the University’s Dovedale campus to the central Ilam campus for the first time, joined by the UC Business School’s UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE), and MBA and Business Taught Masters programmes.

Designed to facilitate collaboration and cultural inclusiveness, Rehua features significant cultural elements, including an exquisitely carved timber ceiling inside the flagship Te Moana Nui a Kiwa room and a Pasifika tapa cloth outside the same room.

“Rehua marks a new era for the College of Education, Health and Human Development and connects the college more strongly with university activities and services,” UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey says.

“In this building our students are being inspired to reach their highest potential as future educators, health professionals, business entrepreneurs and leaders, and it is essential that we lead the way with excellent research and teaching within stimulating, culturally inclusive spaces.”

Staff and students already gather each weekday morning to sing waiata and karakia together and are also invited to participate in a weekly kapa haka practice.

Rehua is a milestone in UC’s campus transformation programme of creating purpose-built learning facilities together with informal spaces that facilitate community collaboration and cross-disciplinary activities. The building’s outstanding design was recently recognised with two New Zealand Institute of Architects Canterbury branch awards; for interior and architecture in the Education Building award category.

Rehua has already hosted events such as the Child Wellbeing Symposium, which shares UC’s research expertise and experience with the early childhood sector, and the UC Pasifika Strategy launch, since staff and students moved in at the beginning of 2019.

Guests, including UC Foundation trustees and donors and industry partners, will be welcomed by mana whenua Ngāi Tūāhuriri at the official opening; UCSA vice-president Tori McNoe will host, and speakers include Minister of Education Hon Chris Hipkins, UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey and Chancellor Sue McCormack.


Fact Sheet: Rehua

Rehua is the new home of:

• Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora | The College of Education, Health and Human Development

• Te Pokapū Rakahinonga | The UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE)

• UC Business School’s triple-crown accredited MBA and Business Taught Masters programmes

This is the first time the College of Education, Health and Human Development has been located on the University of Canterbury’s central Ilam campus.

Rehua is UC’s former Commerce building, transformed into a new purpose-built space designed for contemporary teaching and learning as part of the campus transformation programme.

Rehua won two New Zealand Institute of Architects Canterbury branch awards; for interior and architecture in the Education Building award category. It is now a contender for the national awards in November.


Rehua is spoken of as a chief among stars. It is associated with wellness, healing and leadership, as well as the bright star in the sky that signals the start of summer. The name was gifted by mana whenua Ngāi Tūāhuriri.

Design elements

The main foyer is warm, inviting and vibrant and leads to mezzanines that wrap around the central space.

The themes of weaving and mountains are present through tiling, wood panelling and carving designs and motifs.

The panelling has the Poutama pattern symbolising various levels of learning and intellectual achievement. Some say they represent the steps Tāne-o-te-wānanga ascended to the topmost realm in his quest for superior knowledge and religion.

The tile pattern is symbolic of a leaf pattern in the native forest.

The colour palette chosen for each floor represents an aspect of the natural surroundings rising up from:

L0 – Whenua (Earth)

L1 – Maunga (Mountain)

L2 – Tarutaru (Vegetation)

L3 – Kowhai (Yellow flower)

L4 – Ra (Sun)

L5 – Roto (Lake)

L6 – Rangi (Sky)

Cultural themes of Māori and Pasifika are showcased throughout.

The tapa cloth outside Te Moana Nui a Kiwa is a traditional Pasifika pattern designed by a UC student.

The carved timber panelling outside Te Moana Nui A Kiwa uses a traditional pattern and is randomly spaced symbolising the islands spread across the Pacific.

Carved timber ceiling panels inside Te Moana Nui A Kiwa are from the UC-commissioned Kowhaiwhai collection of Maori artworks.

Te Reo and English are used for signage and wayfinding.


A unique aspect of the building culture is the morning waiata. Every morning a group of up to 30 students/staff gather in the foyer for a waiata.

Staff and students are invited to a weekly lunchtime kapa haka practice.

The community engagement hub in the southeast corner of level 1 is seen as a central place for students to debate, to meet socially, to meet with community groups and generally support their own community.

The informal teaching spaces and community engagement hub are very popular with students.

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