The school takes its name from the district of Christchurch in which it is situated, the name Mairehau having been adopted in 1916 as a compliment to Mrs Mairehau Hutton whose father, Arthur Gravenor Rhodes, owned considerable property in the area and was a notable benefactor to the district.
The namemairehau belongs also to a shrub which grows well in the kauri areas of New Zealand. It is noted for its small, whitish, prolifically growing flowers and for its fragrance.
According to legend Maire was the Maori mist maiden. She, of course, was invisible to mortal eyes and her presence could be detected only by her perfume (hau), the nearest to which in nature was the shrub which thenceforward was known as mairehau.
The encompassing shape is that of the prow of a canoe, a device often used to mark hallowed ground. In the upper part is a symbolic Mairehau flower and in the lower centre is a mere, the symbol of leadership. On each side are scroll patterns indicative of Maori culture through the ages.
The school colours are red and white, and these with black were the only colours available to the Maori craftsmen. Each colour has its special significance. Red is the colour of the physical existence of mankind as we know it; black represents the spirit world of past and future; the white line which runs turning and returning through both red and black is the eternal soul of Man.
Our Waiata and Karakia
He hōnore, He Korōria
Mau ngā rongo ki te whenua
Whakaaro Pai e
Ki ngā Tangata Katoa
Ake ake, ake ake
Te Atua, Te Piringa,
To Listen to the cries of Mother Earth
Strive for better relationships
With all people
For ever and ever
Whose presence is always close
Is my Salvation
The words of this waiata have Biblical and Tūhoe origins. The words from Luke's gospel had been used in an old Ringatū karakia, and other variants have evolved from this prayer.
Whakataka te hau ki te uru
Whakataka te hau ki te tonga
Kia mākinakina ki uta
Kia mātaratara ki tai
E hī ake ana te atakura
He tio, he huka, he hau hū
Tīhei mauri ora!
Cease the winds from the west
Cease the winds from the south
Let the breeze blow over the land
Let the breeze blow over the ocean
Let the red-tipped dawn come with a sharpened air.
A touch of frost, a promise of a glorious day.
Mairetia i te Matauranga. - Be fragrant with wisdom.