Kōruru, Wheku and Manaia MuralTe Pupu and Te Hoata


Tuti Tukaokao



  • Carving
  • Whakairo


  • Customwood/MDF


  • H1170 x W3870mm [RHS x full width]; LHS: H1620mm; base width: W1930mm

Tuti Tukaokao (Ngati Ranginui, Te Arawa), 'Kōruru, Wheku and Mania Mural' (1981), McDonald's, Rotorua.

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022


In 1981 McDonald's Rotorua commissioned Tuti Tukaokao to produce artworks for their new building. Tukaokao created a total of 3 pou, 5 murals, 7 kōwhaiwahi panels and other internal carvings. He also completed an external sculpture in 1997.

'Te Pupu and Te Hoata' is the title on the plaque mounted near the work, that also explains that:

“This carving tells the story of Te Pupu and Te Hoata: Ngatoroirangi, high priest of the Te Arawa canoe, climbed to the top of Mount Tongariro. He was overcome by the intense cold and almost died. He called out to his sisters in the homelands of Hawaiiki to send fire and save him. Hearing his pleas, they invoked the help of the gods who sent fire underground from Hawaiiki to Tongariro. As the fire travelled to him, it surfaced in search of Ngatoroirangi. Finally the fire reached Ngatoroirangi, rescuing him from the cold. The volcanic island of White Island, Tarawera, Orakei Korako and Taupo are some of the places where the fire surfaced thus creating the geothermal wonderland.”

A commemorative pamphlet published by the McDonald's franchise owners of the time, Megan and Philip Mules, doesn't title this mural, but states that "The figures shown are the koruru, the wheku and the manaia, all of which appear often in Maori design".

In this work, Tukaokao has adapted a traditional carving style by leaving the usually highly decorated figures plain, and instead giving the surrounding relief more attention (cited from the McDonald's commemorative booklet).

In his book The Carver and the Artist (2008), Damien Skinner titles the piece 'Kōruru, Wheku and Manaia'. Tukaokao told Damien Skinner it represented McDonald's (The Carver and the Artist, p175).