Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meet the People - 8

Another in the Series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things – Christchurch-based Maori artist, Rua Pick (Waitaha, Ngati Ruapekapeka) creates works “of the spirit, for the spirit – timeless stories of sky, land and sea.” Rua grew up in Northland in the Bay of Islands surrounded by Maori myths and legends, the ocean and living traditions. He always had an interest in mythology, whether it be Maori or Greek and his continued interest in the dramas and foibles of the human condition are now played out in oils on canvas. Selwyn Wilson, one of the country’s first Maori art teachers, was influential during his Bay of Islands High School years. Rua later moved to Christchurch (after a two-year stint in Raglan) to study for a year at Ilam School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University.

Now 40, he has been working fulltime as an artist since 2000 and when he’s not painting in his upstairs Toko Mata Studio and Gallery in inner city Christchurch, he’s out exploring the land, “getting a feel for the land where the early stories were set.” One of his favourite spots is the limestone valley of Castle Hill, near Porter’s Pass “considered in Waitaha myth to be Te Whare Kohanga or the sacred nest of the sandstone grandmother. He also visits South Island Maori rock drawing sites, which have been a continuing inspiration for many of his paintings. Rua has exhibited extensively in group and solo shows throughout New Zealand; he’s been a finalist in the Wallace Trust Awards numerous times; and a number of his works illustrated the book “Whispers of Waitaha – Traditions of a Nation.” He’s currently guest artist at a show at Nelson’s Suter Art Gallery (until April 26) and if you click on Rua Pick in the index line below, you’ll see some of the works in his studio stairwell. You’ll also find many more of his paintings on his website - www.ruapick.vc.net.nz

Kete on Display

Woven kete
The Arts Centre Market

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Small Composition....

Of Kotane Maori Cultural Experience Performers
Willowbank, Christchurch

Maori History Storehouse

Rotorua Museum. 2007. Ajr

Quite apart from being a stunningly beautiful building, Rotorua Museum of Art & History is a storehouse of Maori history. The new Don Stafford Wing opened in 2008 houses exhibitions that focus on the Te Arawa people, much of the mountainous and volcanic geography that was sacred to them, along with an exhibition that details the history and war time achievements of the 28th Maori Battalion. The Te Arawa people can lay claim to starting tourism in New Zealand. Back in 1860 the Tuhourangi people were already organising day trips to the famous Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana – Te Otukapuarangi and Te Terata and Guide Rangi is remembered as an early Rotorua tourism icon. If you can’t get to Rotorua any time soon – which is a shame; it’s one of my favourite places, complete with all it’s smelly sulphurous air – you can check out much of that fascinating history by clicking on to their website – www.rotoruamuseum.co.nz or www.tearawa.iwi.nz

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Marae, New Era

The New Marae Under Construction at Rapaki. March 2009. Ajr
Building is forging ahead on the new Rapaki Marae Development Project. I drove by the construction site a few days ago. The roof is on, the windows are about to go in and the actual building is due for completion by the end of May. Then it’s down to the business of interior decoration. Christchurch carvers, Fayne Robinson (Ngai Tahu) and Riki Manuel (Ngati Porou) are completing all the interior and exterior carvings; and Rapaki weaver, Doe Parata will oversee the weaving of tukutuku panels. The new marae replaces the old Te Wheke Hall and sits on a grassy knoll overlooking the sandy crescent and rocky foreshore of Rapaki Bay, over the Port Hills from Christchurch. The new development is due for completion in November 2009.

Learning the Language

Sign. 2008. Ajr
I came upon this sign some time ago. I can't remember where but I thought it a cute tool for helping children learn Te Reo (Maori language).
Roughly translated
  • harikoa=happiness
  • pukuriri=anger
  • pouri=sadness
  • mauiui=sickly/tired
  • hiamoe=sleepy
  • hoha=bored
  • rangirua=uncertain

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cloaked in History

Kaitorete Spit, Banks Peninsular. Aerial view. Feb. 2009. Ajr
This is an aerial view of Kaitorete Spit on Banks Peninsular that I took from a plane window on my way to Dunedin recently. It’s a place that intrigues me because of its fascinating history and its associations with early Maori. It was back in 2004 that one of the country’s most significant textile finds was unearthed here – tiny fragments of a Maori cloak carbon dated at around 1500AD, making it two centuries older than any cloak ever before found in New Zealand. (The oldest known cloak prior to the Kaitorete Spit find was a 17th century example unearthed in a Fiordland cave). Kaitorete Spit is around 6000 years old and is known to be one of the most ecologically and culturally important sites in New Zealand. It contains a remarkable collection of plants, several rare species of insects, reptiles and birds and it is of significant cultural value to Ngai Tahu for the fact that over 500 archaelogical sites – many of them ancient ovens and tool-making areas - have been found there. Archaeologists have also unearthed the charred remains of a small shelter, stones tools, a flounder midden, evidence of cooking ovens, pieces of kokowai (red ochre) traditionally used by Maori for painting and decorating, a second cloak fragment, pieces of woven sleeping mat, albatross bones, tools, pieces of roof thatch, part of a woven belt and a 600mm long segment of carved wood. All have been removed from the site and restored within the controlled environment of Canterbury Museum. www.canterburymuseum.com

Traditional Designs - 5

Traditional Maori Design Motifs
Contemporary Tee-Shirts
For others in this series click on Traditional Designs in the label line below this posting

Friday, March 27, 2009

Maori Place Names - 5

Mapau Road
Mill Creek, Stewart Island

Weavers' Wall

at Hokonui Marae
Gore, Southland

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Traditional Tattoo Techniques

Image Supplied by Tamaki MaoriVillage.
The Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua is a great place to get a good understanding of traditional Maori arts, crafts and tattoo practices. Notice the two beautiful traditional mere (clubs) in the foreground - one in whalebone, one in pounamu or greenstone. www.maoriculture.co.nz

A Marae Dream Come True

When Te Tauraka Waka a Maui Marae was officially opened at Mahitahi (Bruce Bay) in South Westland on January 23, 2005, there were celebrations all round – and rightly so, for it was the first marae seen on the South Island’s West Coast for almost 140 years. Both West Coast hapu – Kati Waewae and Kati Mahaki ki Makaawhio – had lost their traditional marae with the onset of the gold rush; and it wasn’t until the Ngai Tahu claim in 1996 and a land exchange with the Department of Conservation in 2002, that a new marae became possible.
Inset pounamu (greenstone) in koru pattern
Painted rafters
But it’s been worth the wait and it’s a big improvement over their previous meeting place, the old Bruce Bay Community Hall. When I visited the marae in February I was amazed by the beauty of its whare tipuna (ancestral house), which boasts a magnificent collection of carvings – inside and out - created under the leadership of Canterbury-based Maori carver, Fayne Robinson (Kati Mahaki); and exquisite tukutuku panelling designed by Puhanga Tupaea (Kati Mahaki). The whole complex is nestled into a native bush backdrop just across the main highway from the pretty horseshoe sweep of Bruce Bay. And true to the runanga’s links to West Coast pounamu resources, the whare tipuna and many of the carvings feature exquisite pieces of pounamu, including the rare, soft blue pounamuu called Aotea, which is only found in two places in the world – in Chile and in the Makaawhio River. Samples of local pounamu have been inset into a traditional design in the forecourt of the whare tipuna, as shown in the centre photographs. The Nga Whakairo o Waho (outside carvings) in the lower photograph are, left: Rakaihautu and right: Hotumamoe. The carvings on the front of the house and inside the wharenui represent important tipuna (ancestors), landmarks and taonga (treasures) of the Kati Mahaki people. http://www.makaawhio.maori.nz/

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planting a Marae Reserve

Port Levy, Banks Peninsular, Canterbury
Home to Te Runanga o Koukourarata
March 2009. Ajr
Kahukunu Stream bed. Port Levy. March 2009. Ajr
Come autumn, the banks of the Kahukunu Stream at Port Levy on Banks Peninsular (pictured above) will be planted out in foliage native to the area, thanks to the efforts of the people of nearby Koukourarata Marae. Kahukunu and the nearby Koukourarata Stream are both part of a riparian planting scheme that the runanga has undertaken. They’ll also be planting totara and kahikatea trees for the future use of Maori carvers; and a pa harakeke will be planted as a source of several varieties of harakeke (flax) to be used in weaving projects. In addition to these two plantings, the Koukourarata Runanga will also be creating Kakanui Reserve, on the 87-hectare block of Maori land up the valley (in the hills behind the marae). Working in partnership with the Department of Conservation, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury and the local community, the runanga will fence the reserve and trap and poison pests. Over 10,000 native seedlings have already been gathered from within the reserve and they’re now being on-grown by Trees for Canterbury. Once well established, they will be re-planted in the reserve areas. The runanga is also hoping to release tui into the area in the future. All of these projects are being funded by the runanga’s joint venture mussel farm, which I wrote about here last week, with further assistance from Nga Whenua Rahui , a division of the Department of Conservation that supports the protection of indigenous ecosystems on Maori land. www.doc.govt.nz

Birding on the Titi Islands

I’ve never been to the Titi Islands and I’m never likely to get there – certainly not for ‘birding’ – the annual harvest of titi or muttonbirds. You have to be a descendant of Rakiura Maori to be able to do that. Rakiura Maori are the sole kaitiaki (caretakers) of the Nga Moutere Titi, the 21 Titi Islands scattered around much larger Stewart Island in southern New Zealand waters. I did however get a few photographs of some of the more northern of the Titi Islands when I was crossing Foveaux Strait on the ferry recently on my return from Stewart Island.

The Titi Islands are one of the few places where customary harvest of birds has continued since Pakeha arrived and the customary rights of Rakiura Maori are now recognised in law. Titi, muttonbird, sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus – they’re all the same – is a migratory seabird and the young birds caught by Maori as an annual delicacy are fat with the oils of the fish eaten and regurgitated by their parents. The parent birds come home every night, having eaten pilchards, shrimps, sprats and small squid and the young birds gobble down their oily dinner and grow very, very fat. (It’s no wonder they smell on cooking). Generations of families make the annual pilgrimage to the islands on April 1st and capture bird by reaching down into the bird’s underground burrow.

Photograph of display at DOC Information Centre, Stewart Island. Ajr
In the old days, titi were often preserved in a poha like the one pictured here. Inside the poha is a waterproof bag made of bull kelp. The birds were cooked and then placed in the bag in their own (cooked) fat (a process known as tahu). Air pockets were squeezed out by hand to create a vacuum seal that kept the food fresh for 2-3 years. That bag was protected by an outer wrapping of harakeke (flax), tied together with the bark of the totara tree.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eel Drying

Eel Catch, Rapaki. March 2009. Ajr
It was a perfect, sunny, early autumn day in Christchurch today, so I drove over the hills to check out building progress on the new Rapaki Marae – more on that in a day or two. When I got there I was delighted to find local Maori woman, Marianna Phillips busy preparing her eel catch down at the very cute Rapaki jetty. Once she had washed and gutted the eel, she strung them up by their heads with a strip of harakeke (flax) and suspended them from the jetty. Local Maori have been doing that for decades – the old nails are still in the jetty timbers to prove it. They’ll be left to dry for a couple of days before she starts the next part of the process – filleting them and re-hanging them.

Everyone has different ways of drying tuna (eel) but there’s no question that the salting and curing of them is a long and involved process. Generally, once the tuna had been hung up their tails were cut off to help them bleed before they were left to dry further. Once they had been filleted, salt would be rubbed into the flesh and they’d be re-hung. The tuna would be rolled every day and hung out again. Depending on the weather, that process could take two weeks. After that the rolled tuna would be boiled for about ten minutes, laid out, unrolled and left to dry for the last time. Many Maori made a tent-shaped manuka whata under the trees and the tuna would hang over the manuka rails for three to six months – or until they had all been eaten. Other people kept them in a pataka, or a store room of some sort. For Rapaki locals though, the jetty has always served as the ideal whata – and these juicy specimens are destined for the modern-day freezer to reappear at the opening celebrations of Te Hapu o Ngati Wheke’s new marae in November.

Meet the People - 7

The Unveiling of Twelve Local Heroes - A Celebration. Christchurch. March 18. 2009 Ajr
Another in the Series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things – Sir Tipene O’Regan – a man who needs little introduction – has been immortalised in bronze as part of the Twelve Local Heroes project in Christchurch. The Local Heroes Trust commissioned Lyttelton sculptor, Mark Whyte to create bronze busts of twelve significant Cantabrians, in recognition of their endeavour and achievements in the community. An academic and professional company director, Sir Tipene is best known for his role as Chairman of the Ngai Tahu Maori Trust Board, where he led the Ngai Tahu land and sea fisheries claims before the Waitangi Tribunal. In his role as Maori Fisheries Negotiator he was central to the historic Treaty fisheries settlements of 1989 and 1992. He led the ultimately successful Ngai Tahu Treaty Settlement negotiations from 1990-1998; and in 1993 he was awarded the National Business Review’s New Zealander of the Year. The achievements of this visionary leader are plentiful and his contributions to Maori leadership, business activities, Canterbury University, commercial enterprise, biculturalism and to New Zealand as a whole are widely recognised. In 2005 he received the Centennial Heritage Award of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in recognition of his many years of service to the protection of Maori heritage; and in 2006 he became Chair of Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga, the Centre for Maori research Excellence, based at University of Auckland. www.ngaitahu.iwi.nz

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maori Tourism Success Story

Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora Spa is a 20-acre Maori-owned reserve on the outskirts of Rotorua and in 2007, after wandering through Hell's Gate's steaming thermal valleys that feature hot lakes, sulphur formations, Rotorua’s only mud volcano and the largest whirlpool in New Zealand, I gave in to the urge to roll in thermal mud in the outdoor mud baths. Mmmmmm! Plenty do – like this young German couple visiting the reserve recently.

All images supplied by The Wai Ora Group
This thermal hot-spot and spa is part of the Wai Ora Group which was started in 2008 by Bryan Hughes (Te Arawa, Tuhoe) and his wife Liza. It now also includes Mokoia Island Wai Ora Experiences, which Bryan and Liz formed when they purchased the lease for Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua; plus the Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort, pictured above. Bryan and Liz have used their extensive experience to create a group which reflects a modern Maori approach to business and tourism and each operation within the group follows a very specific ethos stemming from their desire to offer unique New Zealand - and specifically Maori – experiences for visitors and guests. Their Mokoia Island Experiences for instance, focus on the sharing of Maori myths and legends that have been handed down through generations; along with traditional song and dance; guided walks on the island that detail Maori use of flora and fauna along with an outline of current Department of Conservation initiatives that aim to restore endangered bird species on the island bird sanctuary. www.hellsgate.co.nz www.mokoiaisland.com www.waioragroup.co.nz www.doc.govt.nz

A Rotorua Fence

Rotorua 2007 Ajr
I love the colour and patterns on this fence in Rotorua.
Red and Black of course feature strongly in most things Maori

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Early Maori Mission

Te Where Tipene, Tuahiwi, Canterbury. Han 2009. Ajr
Te Where Tipene – St Stephen’s Church sits to the side of a field in the little rural settlement of Tuahiwi, six kilometres north of Kaiapoi. Governor George Grey laid the foundation stone of this cute kauri church in 1867 and the leader of this, the first Maori Mission in the South Island, Reverend James Stack, soon encouraged local Maori to settle nearby. The community still has an established Maori presence and St Stephen’s, the Tuahiwi School and Tuahiwi Marae are all strongly connected. Te Where Tipene has a Category 1 Historic Places Trust listing and it was the first church in Canterbury to have a spire.

Forest Vines

Supplejack on Ulva Island. Feb 2009. Ajr
Meet the impressively-named Rhipogonum scandens, commonly known as supplejack, a New Zealand native vine found in dense bush throughout the country. It is also known to Maori as pirita or kareao and they used its flexible stems to make, among other things, hinaki (eel traps), fish traps, nets and bird cages and taruke (crayfish pots). They also made the vine into a tea, which was used as a tonic for a range of common ailments.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Souvenir Surprises

Christchurch. March 2009. Ajr
I photographed this replica Maori korowai (cloak) in a Christchurch souvenir shop when I was walking around the city last week. For some reason, I still find the sight of a Maori cloak in a souvenir shop window jarring and out of place somehow. I hesitate to use the words 'culturally inappropriate' for it may not be, but it does feel that way to me.

Southern Carving

Stewart Island. Feb 2009. Ajr
This is the Carving
On the Outside
Of the Department of Conservation Visitors' Centre
in Oban, Stewart Island

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Rennaisance of Maori Tattoo

Okains Bay, Banks Peninsular. 2007 Ajr
Back by Popular Demand
I'm reposting this little piece on Maori Tattoo because in a year of blogging it has had more readers than any other single post I've written. Clearly there is a massive interest - not only nationally but internationally - in Maori tattoo and its history.
There’s been a resurgence of the art of Ta Moko (tattoo) as Maori seek to reclaim their heritage and cultural traditions; and every tattoo is customised to reflect an individual’s own beliefs, ancestry and spirituality. Sharon Henderson of Okains Bay thought long and hard about the sort of tattoo she wanted and she sought out one of our best Ta Moko artists to do it. Te Rangitu Netana, now living in Kerikeri is famous for having custom designed tattoos for British rock star, Robbie Williams. It paid off. This beautiful, delicate, highly personalised work on her arm – which includes reference to her family’s whaling ancestry – won Best Female Ta Moko at the 2008 South Island Tattoo Show.

Art in a Studio Stairwell

Rua Pick's Studio, Christchurch. March 2009. Ajr
Christchurch-based Maori artist, Rua Pick has created a colourful approach to his upstairs studio, Toko Mata Gallery (The Visionary Post) in Lichfield Street. I took these photos when I was out walking last week – the lighter canvas is a homage to the ancient Waitaha rock drawings and paintings of the South Island; the bird form, based on the legendary eagle, is acrylic on canvas. Rua was brought up in the Bay of islands and settled in Christchurch in 1992, when he started studies at Ilam School of Fine Arts. He fell in love with the southern land and stayed. Rua is currently preparing for an exhibition of 24 works that will be exhibited at The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatu in Nelson from April 9 – 26. You can see a range of his paintings by clicking on to his website – www.ruapick.vc.net.nz www.thesuter.org.nz

Song and Dance

Image courtesy Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Rotorua
Whakarewarewa Maori Village has been home to the Ngati Wahiao people for more than 200 years and today visitors can take tours of this unique ‘living’ thermal village to see first-hand how local Maori have made the most of this steamy environment. There’s no more striking setting to witness the stirring cultural performances by Te Pakira cultural members (descendants from the local tribe). With steam hissing and scalding mud bubbling in the background, the 30-minute performances cover the gamut from the haka (Maori warrior dance), action songs, long and short poi performances to the famous and very beautiful song, “Pokarekareana." The local children learn these songs and dances from an early age and as they grow up they will usually perform on stage, not only to entertain visitors to the village, but to develop their skills so they can participate in local, regional and national kapa haka competitions. www.whakarewarewa.com

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Celebrating the Mussel Harvest

All images supplied by Te Runanga o Koukourarata

You don’t have to be around the people of Koukourarata Marae for long to feel the enthusiasm and energy they have for the series of forward-thinking runanga projects that they’re currently working on. I visited the Banks Peninuslar marae last weekend to join in the celebrations of the first harvest of their mussel farm (a Ngai Tahu first), which is a joint venture with Marlborough Mussel Company. It took them 5 years of concerted effort to get the applications passed before they could lay the first 44 lines and begin seeding at the entrance to Port Levy in February 2008. Now the first 30 lines are ready to harvest and export; and the second stage of the development is due for harvest from November on.

Port Levy, Banks Peninsular.
And it’s on the back of the mussel farm that Te Runanga o Koukourarata is planning to establish an Aquaculture Academy based on the successful model of the Queen Charlotte College Aquaculture Academy in Marlborough. “It’s all about opening doors for our kids,” says Koukourarata Project Manager, Peter Ramsden (Ngai Tahu, Rangitane). “It’s about upskilling our own - giving them an education and NZQA qualifications so they can come back home to good jobs. It’s about giving the whanau (family) of Koukourarata a ‘hand up’ rather than perpetuating a ‘hand out’ mentality and the potential for employment of trained, suitably-qualified rangatahi (youth) is enormous.” The runanga has prepared a business and strategic plan for the establishment of the academy and is now continuing the process of “knocking on doors,” seeking potential funding and support partners in the wider community.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

TOI ORA: Ancestral Maori Treasures

All images supplied by The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Imagine this – a stunning 196 page book crammed full of beautiful photographs of taonga tuku iho (ancient Maori treasures) – everything from grand structures to ceremonial artefacts including traditional weapons, jewellery and woven clothing. This is TOI ORA: Ancestral Maori Treasures, an exquisite new book from Te Papa Press, based on the remarkable collections of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and edited by Arapata Hakiwai (Ngati Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, Kai Tahu), Director Matauranga Maori at Te Papa; and Senior Curator Maori, Dr Huhana Smith (Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Ruakawa ki te Tonga). The book also features the scholarship of Dr Janet Davidson and Te Papa curators, Matiu Baker and Awhina Tamarapa.

Now available in bookstores throughout New Zealand (RRP $49.99), this sumptuous publication features over 120 full colour plates of taonga tuku iho, some of which have not been published before. Toi Ora: Ancestral Maori Treasures shows these taonga as living treasures, passed on through generations and containing the stories and mauri (life force) of those who made, used and continue to value them. The above images (supplied by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) are - Top: Toki (adze blade). Te Tipunga 1300-1500. Iwi unknown. Pounamu (nephrite)/ 562 x 123 x 52mm. Purchased 1948, as part of the Oldman Collection. Bottom: Kumete (food bowl). Te Huringa 1 1800-1900. Ngati Pikiao from Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua region. Carved by Patoromu Tamatea. Wood/ 450 x 330 x 350mm. Gift of Mrs Chorlton, 1961.

And here is a tantalising glimpse of some of the precious treasures you can expect to see in the book.
Top Left: Nguru (flute). Te Puawaitanga. 1500-1800 or early Te Huringa 1 1800-1900. Iwi unknown. Wood, paua shell, fibre/ 143 x 55 x 50mm. Purchased 1948, as part of the Oldman Collection.
Top Right: Korere (feeding funnel). Te Puawaitanga 1500-1800. Iwi unknown; from Northland region. Wood/160 x 117 x 146mm. Purchased 1948, as part of the Oldman Collection.
Bottom Left: Wahaika paraoa (short-handled whalebone weapon) Te Puawaitanga 1500-1800. Iwi unknown. Whalebone/ 356 x 109 x 20mm. Acquired 1921, as part of the Purvis Russell Collection.
Bottom Right: Matau (fish-hook). Te Puawaitanga 1500-1800. Iwi unknown. Bone, fibre/ 80 x 53 x 12mm. Gift of W. Leo Buller, 1911, from the Sir Walter Buller Collection.

A Quiet Corner

Koukourarata Marae, Port Levy. March 2009. Ajr
I drove over to Koukourarata Marae in pretty Port Levy on Banks Peninsular on Saturday; and in between celebrations and discussions I took a photo of these two wooden patu (weapons), that sit on a little shelf in the corner of the marae hall - Tutehuarewa. If scroll down a few postings, you'll see this lovely old building perched on the side of the bay.


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