Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carved Ancestry

I photographed this carving on my recent travels in the North Island – in Gisborne, near the bridge that crosses the Turanganui River in the centre of town. It was designed by Derek Lardelli and Te Aturangi Nepia Clamp and it was carved by Te Aturangi Nepia Clamp and Bill Baker. The carving is shaped in the form of a tauihu (canoe prow) in honour of the early seafaring Maori ancestors, who were sailing confidently around the Pacific Ocean centuries before European sailors.

It is an elaborate entwining of ancestry from the beginning of time to present day and includes representations of Tangaroa (God of the Sea), Maui (half god, half man), Toi Kai Rakau, an early ancestor, along with spirals representing the separation of Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother). In addition to his work as a carver, Derek Lardelli is also highly regarded as one of New Zealand’s finest ta moko artists. He also works as a visual artist, graphic designer, a composer and kapa haka performer and as a Maori researcher. Te Aturangi Nepia Clamp is internationally and nationally regarded for his carvings.


  1. Stunning carving. I grew up in Tairawhiti, haven't been back for a long time, but this makes me feel like maybe it's time. Thanks for posting. I love your perspective!

  2. Thanks for the lovely comment....and yes, it IS a beautiful carving...and in a lovely setting too.

  3. Having just returned from the Healing Our Spirits Worldwide convention, held in Oahu, Hawaii, I met Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp & the voyagers, and have to say what a beautiful people our brothers are! So full of life, integrity, grace, and strength. I'm so happy that they are reaching out with their voyages, and this is a most stunning carving. My great grandfather was a well-known Alaskan totem carver, so you see... we have much in common worldwide!!

  4. Thanks for your comments. I attended a Ngai Tahu Waka Wananga here in the South Island earlier this year and I must say I found the whole ocean waka voyaging renaissance very inspirational. I've covered that on earlier posts in February if you'd like to see the team at work in Kaikoura. Adrienne


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