Te Mata Mātai Hura

The Investigative Revealing Eye


Our name, whakatauaki and logo design are based on an adaptation of the original artwork (shown above logo) and story by Mark Kopua. 


Mātai means investigate, inquire, or inspect. It is also used as a name for the shoreline or the food supply from the shoreline, as in “”, ‘white/white-water’ and “tai”, ‘tide or sea-water’. The colour scheme of the Mātai logo (shoreline/white sea-water) is portrayed in the green colours and the white waves in the koru.


The koru is an age old symbol of growth, regrowth, regeneration, replenishment and fertility. The koru also has human like features; it has an eye, a head, neck, body and base so it has long been used in Māori arts to represent somebody/anybody in ancestry. A double koru represents the growing together of two lives. 


The two koru intertwined together represent an old Tairāwhiti story of the friendship between the feared tohunga, Te Hou-taketake, and his first interaction with Reverend Williams at Anaura Bay. Reverend Williams who, feeling abandoned by his Anaura Bay ‘flock’, abruptly left Anaura for Tokomaru Bay.  Te Hou was curious about Williams’ abrupt departure and followed him toward Tokomaru Bay. Seeing Williams turning around the Mawhai point, Te Hou quickly turned into a small bay now named “Tuarua” ‘Second’ after their second encounter. He climbed up over a small hillock called “Mihi-marino” ‘peaceful acknowledgement’, where Te Hou spied Williams on his knees, on a flat rock ledge, looking into a “puna”, ‘pool’.  Te Hou called out asking what Williams was doing. Williams told him he was a man looking for a friend, meaning he was communicating with his god, whereupon Te Hou instructed him that he would find his friend by looking into the pool.  With that, Williams saw his own reflection and realised that Te Hou was correct. Hence the pool was called “Wai-hoa”, ‘water-friend’. These two remained respectful friends until Te Hou died. 


The two koru representing the intertwined journey of the two friends also represent the friendships at Mātai, which form the foundations that will lead Mātai through its journey of discovery. The shape and positioning of the two koru also embody Mātai’s imaging technology. 

The puna is the central space between the two koru. When you look into the puna, discoveries and knowledge are reflected back. When we understand what we are seeing (what is reflecting back at us), we can enhance the depth of discovery in our work and can then move forward. 


The puna, and the light dancing on the waves in the upper koru, also represent a Māori story about Uepoto. Uepoto is a god from the Māori creation story, who through all the darkness saw a tiny speck of light that stimulated his curiosity and his search for other ways of existence. The light he saw was called the Hinaatore which is the Māori word for ‘potential’. 


Feathers in Maori design symbolise a higher standing/status and can represent the extremely sacred and highly prized. Embedded in the lower koru is the rau-Huia (sacred Huia feather). The rau-Huia brings the past to the present, and shares with us the representation of leadership entwined with aspects that come together to create Mātai. The rau-Huia is represented in the lower koru. Life flows through the tail into the body of the Huia.