The Māori name is metaphorical rather than a literal English translation and this broadly equates to The School (or House) of Ascension to Health Under the Southern Cross. This encapsulates RACS’ commitments to continued excellence in learning, its dedication to the attainment of good health, and the College’s bi-national history.
The development of the Māori motif, designed by Mr Mark Kopua (Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngāti Ira, Ngāti Porou), brings together several key elements to represent RACS’ Māori health initiatives. The representation is explained by:
- the taniwha (serpent) through the centre, being symbolic in Māoridom for guardianship or protector. It closely resembles the serpent of the Rod of Asclepius (the Greek god of healing).
- the head of the taniwha is representative of Rongomatane, the Māori god of good health and wellbeing, medicine and peace.
- the three parallelograms in the motif represent the three kete (baskets) of knowledge in Māori tradition – kete o te wānanga. Each symbolises a different area of knowledge – Kete Tuauri (natural world), Kete Tuatea (agriculture) and Kete Aronui (literature, arts and philosophy).
- the two scalpels represent Te Āwhiorangi (top right) and Te Whironui (bottom left), the principal blades used to sever Papatūānuku (earth mother) from Ranginui (sky father) in Māori legend, thus letting light into the world. While surgery is much more than procedures, scalpels are obvious and immediate imagery for surgery.
- other design elements include the repeated image of the koru (furled fern frond) which represents new beginnings, growth and regeneration. It is a symbol that has become synonymous with Aotearoa/New Zealand. The triangular designs throughout are often represented in Māori art, and feature in the tukutuku panels that decorate the walls of the wharenui (meeting house) on marae.