Westlake Girls introduced a new house system in 2013 with five houses associated with significant local place names. The naming of each house was inspired by the history of the North Shore area then connected to a “Whakapapa of Māori Mythology” for relevance to the creation of each House story. The house symbols convey the stories and colours which emulate the pursuit of excellence inspired by the Olympic rings. Akoranga House is black, Hauraki House is gold, Onewa House is red, Pupuke House is blue and Wairau House is green. Below is the whakapapa (family tree) and the stories associated with each House.
According to Māori legend the “art of learning” was centred around how Tane Mahuta, the God of the Forest, gathered three baskets of knowledge and two stones from the heavens to bring back to Earth for mankind to use. The three baskets of Knowledge for mankind were known as;
Te Kete Aronui – all the knowledge that can help mankind
Te Kete Tuauri – all the knowledge of ritual, memory and prayer
Te Kete Tuatea – all the knowledge of evil or makutu, which was harmful to mankind
The two stones or Whatukura represented the power of knowledge and added mana (power) to the learning of knowledge.
The House symbol uses the koru to reflect the baskets of knowledge and two circles symbolise the stones.
Hauraki – The northern winds
The traditional northern winds created by Tāwhiri-mātea (God of the weather) bring the warmer currents, the arrival of the popular fish the Tāmure (Snapper) and encourages the blooming of our native tree the Pōhutukawa. The Māori people see the blossoming of the Pōhutukawa flower as a good sign to fish.
The House symbol uses the koru and the spikes to represent the northern winds and the Pōhutukawa flower.
Onewa – The red soils
This could be represented by the first woman created from the red soils of Kurawaka as Hine-ahu-one (Earth-formed-woman). She personifies the meaning of “Mana Wāhine” or the “Power of Women”. Hine-ahu-one was created by Tāne Mahuta as there was need for the human element to be introduced in the spiritual realms for the place we know as Earth. The act of pressing noses known as the ‘Hongi’ between Tāne Mahuta and Hine-ahu-one, and the expression given by Tāne Mahuta “Tihei mauri ora” meaning “Bring forth the breath of life”, occurred when Hine-ahu-one took her first breath. These are the origins of some of the cultural practices and speech today.
The House symbol depicts a chin moko (tattoo) for Hine-ahu-one.
Pupuke – The overflowing lake
Pupuke comes from the Māori name Pupukemoana meaning the over flowing lake. Pupuke could be represented by Mahuika the goddess of fire as she played a major part in how the lake was created. The Māori myth surrounding the lake tells of a “Tupua couple” who were children of the fire gods. After quarrelling and cursing Mahuika, their home here on the mainland was destroyed by Mataoho on behalf of Mahuika, with Pupuke resulting from the destruction and Rangitoto Island rising from the sea as a consequence. Rangitoto Island would become their new home. The mists surrounding Rangitoto are meant to symbolise the tears of the Tupua couple for their former home. It is believed that Mataoho is responsible for all of the volcanic activity in the Auckland region.
The House symbol reflects Mahuika through the fire finger-flames on the left-hand side which is surrounded by a koru representing the Pupuke eruption. The middle section depicts Rangitoto Island and the Tupua couple.
Wairau – Many waters
The Wairau area, centred around the Glenfield industrial sites, was famous for a major battle (Tūmatauenga God of War) that took place when Ngā Puhi wished to recapture most of the top half of the North Island and battled three local tribes Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Whātua and Te Kawerau. Ngā Puhi were the successors with Ngāti Paoa moving to the islands of the gulf, Te Kawerau pushed to the western ranges of Waitakare, and Ngāti Whātua moving across to Bastion Point.
The House symbol represents the battle with the first koru being Kawerau a Maki, the middle koru Ngā Puhi and the smallest koru at the top symbolising the crater formed by the blood spilt from the warriors. The name for the crater is “Ururoto” and forms part of the Māori name for both Westlake Girls and Westlake Boys. The lines amongst the koru reflect the blood lines that flowed within all the tribes involved.