Te Pare Taonga

What is Te Pare Taonga?

'Te Pare Taonga' is a Maori phrase with

  • 'Te' meaning the
  • 'Pare' meaning a carved slab over a door.
  • 'Taonga' meaning anything that is highly prized.

Therefore 'Te Pare Taonga' refers to the carving placed above the entrance to the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College, and its significance to the staff and course members of the College.

Te Pare Taonga by David Te Hira over the entrance to the NZDF Command and Staff College [wn-08-0144-06].

Te Pare Taonga tells the story of the College and provides an important first visual impression for all staff, course members and visitors as they enter the College. It serves to remind us of the role of the College as the country's highest level provider of residential professional military education for officers from New Zealand and other regional countries. The tri-Service nature of the College and its history dating back to 1950 are also told through this carving.

Mr David Te Hira was commissioned to produce this carving for the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College in 2004. The carving was formally unveiled on 17 May 2005.

The Pare consists of seven elements, representing the following:

Three central figures

Each figure is carved with different patterns to indicate the uniqueness of each service. Their arms are together to represent ‘strength in unity’. Individually, the figures symbolise the following:

  • The Rangatira (Chief) at the left is using a Hoe (paddle) to row the Waka (canoe), representing the Royal New Zealand Navy. This figure symbolises teamwork, the importance of good technique, of purpose and direction.
  • The Rangatira in the centre is holding a Hoeroa (Maori weapon of flight), representing the Royal New Zealand Air Force. A man of chiefly status would have used one of these weapons. It is said that one of its uses was to throw it at an opponent before retrieving it with an attached cord. This figure symbolises flight, skill and leadership.
  • The Rangatira to the right is holding a Taiaha (Maori weapon similar to a spear) to depict the Wero (challenge) and hand to hand combat. This figure represents the New Zealand Army. This figure also symbolises welcome and personal discipline.
Mana Whenua 

The two carved figures laying at the foundation of this carving acknowledge the Mana Whenua (iwi (people) with authority in the area), the Ati Awa people that were the last to be established in the area.

The Large Manaia figures

Manaia refer to grotesque beaked figures often used in carving. The large Manaia figures at each end of the Pare are looking outwards and beyond, portraying vision, the future, and the pursuit of excellence in all that we do. They are also embracing the smaller Manaia in Manakitanga (hospitality) towards the visitors that come  to the College.


An extension of pathways from the two Manaia at the bottom symbolises the course members who travel from all over New Zealand and different parts of the world to attend the Command and Staff College. They start at ground level and under the authority of the New Zealand Defence Force, continue up towards the top of the Pare.

The smaller Manaia

The smaller Manaia are connected to the upper pathways along the ridge of the very top. These Manaia acknowledge the many visitors that come to the College and symbolise their elevated status and that they will be served with excellence.


Kaimahi (workers) are represented by two Manaia on the outer sides. These Manaia are looking inwards, taking care of the Whanau (family), representing the staff that care for, train and empower others.

The Takarangi Pattern

The Takarangi Pattern (Spiral Pattern) depicts Te Ao Marama (World of Light) or the spiritual dimension. This is also a reminder that we can place our trust in God himself when we come in humility.

This page was last reviewed on 24 February 2011.