Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celebrating Matariki - Part II

Images courtesy of Bron Marshall.

Throughout June, many New Zealanders now celebrate Matariki, or Maori New Year, the date of which is determined by the arrival of a cluster of seven bright stars in the night sky often called the Seven Sisters, or Pleiades. For Maori it is the time to begin planting new crops. In North Canterbury, Bron Marshall and her family took time out to decorate their home to celebrate the occasion. “We’re a home-schooling family practising real world learning, therefore traditions, cultures and celebrations are a huge part of our ‘curriculum’,” says Bron. “To celebrate, we decorated our home with twinkling fairy lights. We also gathered flax to weave stars and the house was decorated with kete (baskets) and poi. We also indulged in a fine hangi in the backyard with succulent ginger pork strips and kumara; and we finished our celebrations by making and decorating gingerbread cookies in Maori-themed shapes of tiki, koru and more stars – because when I’m not wearing my home-schooling-Mum hat, I can usually be found wearing my chef’s hat over at www.bronmarshall.com – and in my opinion there isn’t a finer learning tool than a sweet spicy biscuit treat,” says Bron. Take a look at Bron’s amazing food photographs over at http://www.bronmarshall.com/ And you can find out more about Maori New Year by clicking on Matariki in the label line below this posting.

Tiny Tiki

Image courtesy Too Luscious, Rotorua
Multi-Coloured Tiki
Resin Treasures
From Too Luscious
Too see more of the Too Luscious jewellery range and to meet the owners click on Too Luscious or Meet the People in the label line below this post.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Quiet Marae Moment

Northland. May 2009 Ajr
It was still early when I turned onto the little gravel road that lead to Te Karae Marae, not far north of Kohukohu, in the Far North. When I parked my car there was total silence but for a pair of spur-winged plovers chuckling together on the front lawn of the marae. This little Catholic church sat apart, on the brow of the small hill I had driven up. I sat there awhile, just enjoying the peace and prettiness of the scene, as the morning sun came out from behind clouds.

Northland. May 2009 Ajr
Then the silence was broken - down below, I could hear laughter coming from the watercress-filled creek.. I couldn’t see anybody but maybe they were gathering the watercress? I drove down the hill hoping to meet someone but there wasn’t a soul about and I had to keep moving. A lovely stop nonetheless.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Northland Church

Northland. May 2009. Ajr
On my recent whirlwind trip around New Zealand, I encountered dozens of gorgeous little, red-roofed churches, many of them in Maori communities and many of them in Northland. Almost without exception I stopped to photograph them - unless there were too many cars for me to safely negotiate a stop. (Always frustrating!) It was a grey, rainy day when I came upon this one - sweet little St Mary's Anglican Church, not far north of Dargaville and very close to Taita Marae. I haven't been able to find out anything specific about the church but for now it can stand alone for us to admire. Suffice to say, I came away from Northland with a much better understanding of why well-known New Zealand photographer, Laurence Aberhart made such a concerted study, over a number of years, of Northland Maori churches.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

School's In!

Nuhaka. May 2009. Ajr
Nuhaka is a tiny dot of a town – a village really; 350 people – about 32 kilometres from Wairoa in Eastland. Village life centres around the magnificent Kahungunu Marae that I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago. Across the road from the marae on Ihaka Street is this terrific little school – Nuhaka School, which has its origins in the Nuhaka Native School that was established here in 1898.

Nuhaka, May 2009. Ajr
Today it has around 138 pupils and they were all in class when I stepped through the gate to take these photographs. I LOVED it! So colourful and bright. That’s one of the aspects of life in Eastland that I loved the most – there’s colour and pattern and traditional Maori design in every town, in every settlement. They’re proud of their cultural traditions obviously and they haven’t white-washed their communities. Excellent murals abound, often mixed with graffiti, giving settlements a ‘personalised’ character that speaks loudly of their culture. I live in Christchurch where, with a few rare exceptions, citizens seem anxious about anything that even faintly resembles graffiti, or street art. Ridiculous really, because there is no escaping culture – even street culture; and perhaps if it was allowed a wider sweep within the Christchurch streetscape, the visual climate of the city would be a good deal richer. Anyway…enough rambling about street art…Nuhaka School is just the best!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Contemporary Sculpture

Napier. May 2009. Ajr
When I visited Napier in May, I was delighted to come upon this contemporary sculpture by Maori artist, Para Matchitt. Entitled 'Heritage Fountain - Nga Puna Wai Whakapapa', it stands outside Napier's i-SITE Visitor Information Centre. I had thought the information centre might carry some more information about the work, but no, as is so often the case in my experience of information centres, they know too little about the important, obvious things right under their noses. Beyond the date inscribed on the work (1996), I'm sorry to report I was unable to discover anything further. However, you can see other works by this well known contemporary Maori artist, by clicking on Para Matchitt in the label line below this post.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Takahanga - A Place By the Sea

Kaikoura. April 2009. Ajr
When you walk through the old whale ribs onto Kaikoura’s Takahanga Marae it’s hard to know which comes as the bigger surprise – the laden apricot trees, the wafting scent of roses, the sight of agapanthus and dahlias rubbing shoulders with cabbage trees and olives, or the giant Neil Dawson feather sculpture swirling in the sea breeze. Sited on an historic pa site above Kaikoura township with panoramic ocean views, the marae and its eleven acres exude a welcoming sense of ‘homestead,’ of inclusiveness. And as you walk through Chris Booth’s geranium-clad stone archway onto a Michael Smither’s stone path, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d entered a sculpture park. In front of the main meeting house a cluster of gigantic totara sculptures created by Maori carver and sculptor, Cliff Whiting and the late Bill Solomon, provide a formal welcome. There are the pottery footsteps made by sculptor Bronwyn Cornish, the screen gifted to the marae by Lyttelton artist, Bill Hammond and inside, a collection of photographs by Wellington’s Ann Noble.

Kaikoura. April 2009. Ajr
On a site that has been occupied by Maori for over 800 years, it’s an unexpected break from tradition. That says Cliff Whiting, was always the intention.
“Back in the 1970s Ngai Tahu recognised that no new marae had been built for a long time and they saw the need to develop their cultural identity. Once the site had been agreed upon with the NZ Historic Places Trust, an archaeological dig was carried out, confirming that the original site was very close to the new plans in development. When it came to developing the garden, the local Ngati Kuri people were very much guided by the presence and preservation of original pallisade mounds,” he says.

Kaikoura, April 2009. Ajr
In a unique departure from tradition, Ngati Kuri, under the guidance of the late Bill Solomon, recognised their shared histories and the fact that since the early 1880s, many of their people had inter-married with Europeans. “Bill got the idea of involving pakeha artists in the development of outside areas and everyone worked together in a very deliberate way to integrate that inclusiveness into the whole marae statement. It was the first marae to do that and while some of the ideas have since been incorporated into Awarua at Invercargill, it remains the quite unique,” says Whiting. (This is an extract from a feature I originally wrote in 2005, published in Urbis Landscapes).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heading Around East Cape

All Photos, Waiotahi, Eastland. May 2009. Ajr
There's no such thing as a dull moment when you make the trip from Opotiki, right around East Cape and down into Gisborne. I did it recently in two days (I've done it previously in one day), and even with an overnight stay at the half-way point of Te Kaha, it pushing it. I would much rather do the trip over a week because, simply put, it's a photographer's heaven - especially if you're photographing anything to do with Maori culture, as I was. I came home with hundreds of photos just from that leg of the journey, yet there was SO much more I never had time to stop and see - which begs a return trip of course. One stop I did make was at this rest area on the side of the road near Waiotahi Beach. I loved the way the silvery sign shimmered against that perfect blue sky. In Maori it says Te Maori a Te Whenua. In English on the other side, Welcome to Our Smoke-Free Area. I'm not sure if one is a translation of the other - maybe if any te Reo speakers reading this can leave a comment? That would be great.

Maori Place Names - 13

Whirinaki, Hokianga, Northland. May 2009. Ajr
Whirinaki, Hokianga
The Far North

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Craft Traditions

Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Rotorua. May 2009. Ajr
If you’ve ever been to a Maori kapa haka performance, you’ll be familiar with that lovely clicking sound that the traditional piupiu (skirt) makes as the performers move. Made of dried harakeke (flax), each piupiu requires a great deal of time and fiddly effort. When I visited Te Puia at Rotorua recently I watched a group of women making them in the Arts & Crafts Centre (below images), so by the time I got to Whakarewarewa Thermal Village and saw these piupiu for sale in one of the family craft outlets, I had a much better understanding of just how detailed the process is.

Te Puia Arts & CRafts Centre, Rotorua. May 2009. Ajr
Once the fresh flax has been cut to the required length, each leaf is marked with a piece of shell, or a knife, to designate the areas of darker pattern on the end garment. The shiny green leaf surface above and below the dark area is then scrapped off to reveal the inner fibre. Traditionally the flax was dyed – often in dark mud (containing iron oxide) and then set in a mix of pounded hinau bark and water. Once the dying process is completed, the dyed leaves are hung to dry (as above). That’s when the normal part of the leaf curls into a hard, straw-like cylinder (which makes the clicking noise during movement). The leaves are then woven together at the top to form a skirt. www.tepuia.com www.whakarewarewa.com

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tokoroa's Talking Poles

I used to live in Tokoroa long ago – back in the days when I was a cadet journalist on the South Waikato News. That was long before the town’s Talking Poles came into being. They’ve been springing up since Tokoroa started sprucing itself up in 1998 and now there’s over 34 of them around the central shopping area. I had to stop in Tokoroa to get petrol on my recent Frommers New Zealand road trip, so I took the opportunity to photograph a few of them.
Tokoroa. April 2009. Ajr
Tokoroa is the second largest town in the Waikato with a population of around 15,000 (I think) and 35% of it is Maori. It is said to be named after the great chief, Tokoroa of the Ngati Kahupungapunga tribe, who was slain during a battle. The town also has the largest Pacific Island community outside Auckland and Wellington – and you can see both influences in the carved poles – pou in Maori. They’re certainly a mixed bag when it comes to carving style – this no doubt to reflect the mutli-cultural nature of the people living there.

Tokoroa Carvings - Another View

Tokoroa. April. 2009. Ajr
More of the Talking Poles in Tokoroa's main shopping area.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Urban Mural

Auckland. April 2009. Ajr
I’m a sucker for urban graphics of any kind – posters, graffiti, billboards, graphics, anything – so it was a foregone conclusion that I would halt the car on Ponsonby Road in Auckland, so I could get out and photograph this mural. This, I should point out, is only one small section of a huge community project that gives life to hoardings near the intersection of Karangahape and Ponsonby Roads. This particular section was led by Barbara Joseph, who helped the children involved research New Zealand’s pre-settlement flora and fauna in Auckland’s Western Bays region. The children’s composite work was silk screened and stencilled and attached to the hoardings. Love it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

By Hook or By Crook

Queenstown, May 2009. Ajr
Maori carver, Nathan Jerry (Tainui) of Invercargill, sells his fabulous range of pendants and carvings at Queenstown Market every Saturday. These are two hei matau (fish hook) pendants, carved from paua shell. You can read more about Nathan by clicking on his name in the label line below this post.

Southern Performers

Willowbank, Christchurch. February 2009 Ajr

It seems forever since I brought you any Ngai Tahu material. That's because I've been away travelling for two months and I have so much fabulous stuff from the North Island that I'm dying to share. So just to even things up a little, here's another shot from the Kotane cultural performance group, entertaining guests at the Willowbank Wildlife Park in Christchurch. http://www.kotane.co.nz/ www.willowbank.co.nz

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hokianga History

Pakanae, Northland. May 2009. Ajr
Marae-roa Pakanae sits on a small hill beside the main road that leads in to the tiny Far North town of Opononi, in the Hokianga Harbour. Opononi of course, was made famous by Opo the Dolphin, who ‘befriended’ people in the seaside community in the 1950s. The little Maori settlement of Pakanae, just a couple of kilometres from Opononi, has a much deeper history. It’s one of the oldest Maori settlements in New Zealand and is said to be the place Kupe settled in before making his return trip to Hawaiki to encourage his people to migrate to Aotearoa. I stopped on the roadside and took some photographs of the marae, looking back up into the wonderful cloud formations that had gathered behind the hilltop buildings

Pakanae, Northland. May 2009. Ajr
And with a zoom lens, I was able to get a (slightly fuzzy) photograph of Kupe’s Memorial Stone, which sits within a small fenced area on the grassy expanse in front of the marae itself. Not so far away is the conical hill, Whiria, which is said to have been a powerful pa (fortified village) many centuries ago.
Pakanae, Northland. May 2009. Ajr
There was a gathering in progress at Pakanae when I pulled up on the roadside – I could just see people moving about in the distance and there were cars parked all the way across to the rather beautiful red-roofed church that stands nearby on the same rise – St Luke’s Anglican, according to the sign….one of the many gorgeous little red-roofed churches that dot the Far North landscape. Pakanae now has a gleaming new look after an extensive marae re-building project that culminated in a happy re-opening in December 2007. You can see before and after photographs of the marae project on their website – http://www.pakanaemarae.org.nz/

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Maori Place Names - 14

Makirikiri. North Island. May 2009. Ajr
Near Dannevirke, North Island

Colourful Opotiki

Opotiki. May 2009 Ajr
My time in Opotiki was all too short – a drive through basically; a few loops around the main streets; a few stops for the all-important photographs – and then onward around East Cape. This small Bay or Plenty town, sitting on the banks of the Otara and Waioeka Rivers, is the gateway to East Cape and it has a rich Maori history. Long before European settlement it was a bustling Maori community and Pa Kowhai extended all along the river banks. It was home – and still is of course – to the people of Te Whakatohea and evidence of early Maori settlement has been found in ancient pa sites at Tirohanga, Makeo, Paerata and Tawhitirahi – all close to Opotiki. Today the Whakatohea Trust Board manages the iwi assets including dairy farms, buildings, mussel farms and educational programmes.
Opotiki. May 2009 Ajr
Opotiki itself is rich in colour, texture and pattern. I particularly liked this enormous carved pou (post) that stands at one end of the main street. It depicts the area’s history from the arrival of pakeha to the development of trading, agriculture and horticulture. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to find out who the carvers were but maybe we can just enjoy it for the bulk and heft it adds to this quiet little town’s streetscape. www.opotikinz.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Small Bags for Koha

March 2009. Ajr
Small Kite

A Museum Moment

Auckland Museum. April 2009. Ajr
I loved these two amo (carved upright posts) on display at Auckland Museum. According to the label, they are from “the famous pataka (storehouse), Hinana, which first stood at Pukawa, near Tokaanu, at the south end of Lake Taupo. The amo stood at the front corners of the pataka to support the maihi (bargeboards). Hinana was built in 1856 by Te Heu Heu Iwikau of Ngati Tuwharetoa." www.aucklandmuseum.com www.tuwharetoa.iwi.nz

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meet the People - 19

Tawa Hunter (left); Aroha Armstrong (right).
Another in the Series Meet the People - Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things - Aroha Armstrong (Te Arawa) and Tawa Hunter (Te Whanau a Apanui), of Rotorua were casting pregnant women’s bellies in plaster and concrete when they stumbled upon resin. With no information but a whole lot of passion, creativity and determination, they figured out how to use it and the rest, as they say, is history. Pregnant belly castings gave way to the super cool, contemporary resin jewellery range, Too Luscious, inspired by all things Maori. Tawa, 33 and Aroha, 34 have been friends since they were at school and now Aroha is married to Tawa’s brother. Between them they have eight children. Not that that has slowed them down. Since Too Luscious came into being in 2005, it’s been a raging success and the dynamic pair has gone from strength to strength.

“Our first real piece was a hot pink resin tiki and everyone wanted one,” says Tawa. “We’d go out wearing our stuff and people would almost rip it off our necks. That was a great encouragement but we hadn’t even refined our resin processes or our business plan then. We ended up making them as fast as we could and we were just keeping our heads above water.” But they’ve thrived on both the creative and the business challenges and as demand has grown, so has the Too Luscious range. Today they have a tiki in two sizes and 28 colours; heru (hair combs), bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants. “Not all our pieces are based on Maori design but most are – albeit subtly in some cases. We give traditional designs a contemporary twist but we do that with respect. We see our jewellery as a celebration of our culture, of who we are,” says Aroha. “It’s colourful and it gives people permission to have fun.”

All images supplied by Too Luscious
Based on traditional designs like the tiki, the toki (adze), the heru (comb), the pekapeka and the hei matau (fish hook) – even a huia beak – the pieces are sold in over 40 outlets nationwide and internationally via the Too Luscious website. And it’s fair to say that anyone wearing a piece of Too Luscious jewellery definitely gets their fair share of attention. “They’re not for the faint-hearted,” says Tawa with a laugh. “They seem to draw people to you and we get heaps of letters and photos from happy customers all over the world.” Now that Aroha and Tawa have fine-tuned their business, they have plans to “move beyond jewellery.” Watch this space – or this one: www.tooluscious.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's A Sign!

East Cape, North Island. May 2009 Ajr
I loved the shape of this pohutukawa tree as I made my way to the top of East Cape recently - travelling through Te Whanau-a-Apanui territory. I've spent the last year writing a series of indepth features on Customary Fisheries Regulations for Ngai Tahu's magazine Te Karaka here in the South Island, so I related well to this sign. www.apanui.co.nz www.ngaitahu.iwi.nz

Waitangi - An Aerial View

Waitangi, Northland. Image Courtesy Waitangi National Trust
This is the very beautiful Waitangi National Trust Estate as viewed from the air. I visited here again on my recent trip around New Zealand and I was lucky enough to do two of the Trust’s guided tours, with Waitangi’s senior guide, Wil Napier (Ngapuhi), who was born and raised on the Waitangi grounds. This is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6th, 1840, granting Maori the rights of British subjects. The flagpole is in the foreground on the spot known as Te Pitowhenua, or Birthplace of a Nation. The Treaty of Waitangi is one of only two treaties in the war signed in peacetime not war. The other is the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959. www.waitangi.net.nz

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Celebrating Matariki

Auckland. April 2009. Ajr
When Te Rangi Huata of Public Dreams Trust organised his first Matariki, or Maori New Year celebrations in Hastings in 2000 he set the wheels in motion for the revival of one of New Zealand’s most ancient celebrations. People all round New Zealand are, or are about to celebrate Matariki, or the Maori New Year. Later today in fact, I’m going to a Matariki kapa haka performance at Christchurch Art Gallery. Matariki is the Maori name for Pleiades, a particularly distinctive cluster of seven stars, which can be seen at some time from most parts of the world. Also known as Messier 45 and the Seven Sisters, the cluster features in the mythology of many cultures - Greek, Aztec, Mayan, Pawnee, Navaho, Australian Aboriginal and Polynesian – and the time of the cluster’s rising (once a year in mid-winter – usually late May or early June) has always been a major indicator of the seasonal changes throughout the ancient world. For Maori in New Zealand, the arrival of the first new moon after the rising of Pleiades in the eastern dawn sky marks the end of the year’s traditional harvest and the beginning of the ‘new year’ planting season. Traditionally Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year; but it was also a celebratory time – with crops harvested, seafood and birds collected and plenty of food in the storehouses, it was a time for singing, dancing and feasting. Matariki celebrations were popular among Maori before the arrival of Europeans and they continued into the 1900s. One of the last recorded traditional festivals was staged in the 1940s. But the celebration dwindled and it was not until the dawn of the 21st century that the tradition was revived. An estimated 500 people attended Te Rangi Huata’s first festival in 2000. By 2003 numbers had risen to 15,000 and the popularity of Matariki throughout the country has been on a steady rise ever since. Matariki is gaining in popularity because it celebrates Maori culture and in doing so brings all New Zealanders together. It’s becoming a little like Thanksgiving or Halloween, except it’s a celebration of Maori culture here in New Zealand. It’s New Zealand’s Thanksgiving perhaps. The celebration of the rising of Matariki and the beginning of the Maori New Year is an opportunity for all New Zealanders to share in aspects of Maori culture and iwi (tribes) throughout the country will be staging a wide range of individual events from late May to July – everything from fireworks, hot air balloons and traditional Maori kite (manu tukutuku) displays to Maori art and craft exhibitions, kite-making workshops, song and dance, street performances, lavish dinners and astronomy evenings.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Market Wares

March 2009 Ajr
(Hair Combs)
For sale at a local market


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