Otago Polytechnic’s multi-million-dollar Trades Training Centre has been gifted an official name – He Toki Kai Te Rika.

“We are honoured to have been gifted this name by rūnaka, with whom we have strong, ongoing relationships,” says Dr Megan Gibbons, Chief Executive Otago Polytechnic.

He Toki Kai Te Rika translates as “A Tool For Your Hand”.

Kare Tipa, Otago Polytechnic Mana Whenua Board Representive and member of Kōmiti Kāwanataka, explains why the name was chosen:

“In the time of our tīpuna (precolonisation), a toki (adze) gave great precedence to its owner. Differing kinds of toki gave effect to status; from the rangatira (chiefly) to the ware (commoner), toki were both used in informal and formal domains.

“Ceremonially, when a great tree was felled, toki were used to carve or to fashion a grand canoe (waka), or for the ridge-pole of the wharenui of a meeting house. The mauri (life force) within the tree felled carried the living embodiment of its deity Tāne Māhuta.

“Toki were also used as weapons, as well as in everyday, menial tasks such as gardening and cutting plant material. There are other forms of toki, too, including spades and garden hoes, which were fashioned for more specific tasks.

“In the context of the Trades Training Centre, the use of “toki” situates the learner as having the tools or skills to perform a trade of their choice.”

Construction of the $31.7 million He Toki Kai Te Rika project, at the heart of Otago Polytechnic’s Forth St Campus in Dunedin began in January 2021, and is expected to be ready for use by Semester 1 2023.

Stimulating and supporting economic activity in the city and region, He Toki Kai Te Rika will employ around 200 tradespeople, construction managers and consultants.

“The project is significant to both the local and national construction industry,” Dr Gibbons says. 

“He Toki Kai Te Rika will be of international standard. It will provide an outstanding learning environment, offering modern learning facilities including common learning spaces, to meet industry and more sophisticated learner demands.


He Toki Kai Te Rika - Otago Polytechnic Trades Training Centre:

  • Situated at Otago Polytechnic’s main Dunedin campus
  • Total cost: $31.7 million (Government investment $28 million - grant and loan through its tagged contingency for infrastructure)
  • Construction work began in January 2021. Although time has been lost time due to 2021 COVID lockdowns, the project team aims to have the building ready for occupancy by Semester 1 2023. Project strategies include early procurement of materials
  • Internal fitout work is underway for level 1
  • The next exciting milestone will be the delivery and construction of the Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)
  • Strong sustainability focus includes following Living Building Challenge (LBC) principles, as well as using Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT)

Published on 25 Jan 2022

Orderdate: 25 Jan 2022
Expiry: 25 Jan 2024