Sunday, February 28, 2010

Northland Adventures

The day I drove into Pakiri Beach north of Leigh in the sunny north of the North Island, the sun was not long up, it was already warm and I had the beach entirely to myself - except for a rather nasty bull terrior that decided I looked like a juicy snack!

It's one of those places I now have on my list of 'Places I Must Return To.' The whole area has a rich Maori history and not far away, Te Kiri Marae at Leigh is also worth a visit. As I've mentioned many times, I love driving down side roads but as I was just setting out and had a long journey ahead of me (all the way out to the tip of Karikari Peninsula with at least a dozen side trips along the way), I decided against turning down the road that led to Laly and Sharley Haddon's Pakiri Beach Horse Rides. Descended from Te Kiri of Ngati Wai, an ancient Maori chief and his daughter, Rahui, they would have been the perfect people to give me all the details about the area. They live on the land that has been handed down through generations and with a wealth of experience in farming and horses, they've branched out into tourism with their riding venture. The family farm, Taurere covers 2,000 acres of east coast Northland and includes a private beach and around 130 horses. They offer a number of multi-day horse riding options, most of which include an introduction to the Maori history of the area. I can't think of a better way to get to know this isolated and otherwise private stretch of lower Northland.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Representing the People

Te Herenga Tangata
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu
Te Herenga Tangata is the wood, shell and pounamu caring that represents the eighteen runanga and the people of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, the South Island's leading iwi (tribe). Each runanga is represented by one of the carved nobs. The carving is always present at important meetings and hui - I photographed it here, at the annual Ngai Tahu Hui-a-Tau, at Takutai o te Titi Marae, in Colac Bay, Southland in November last year.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tukutuku Craftsmanship

Lattice panels, or tukutuku, are traditional features of any wharenui (meeting house). These intricate designs are formed (usually by the women of the tribe), by crossed stems/stalks/poles, held together by elaborate and decorative cross stitching created from strips of flax, or certain kinds of grass like orange-tinted pingao or bleached kiekie. The horizontal patterns are seen from the front and the verticals remain hidden at the rear. Modern tukuktuku, like that shown below, often incorporate a far wider range of colours - just as carvings and marae paintings often do. Multiple patterns are recurring in traditional tukutuku. The Niho taniwha for instance (teeth of the monster) uses chevron forms to allude to monster's teeth; and the Patiki (flounder) is a diamond form, which resembles the shape of the sand flounder, a common New Zealand estuary fish prized by Maori. If you'd like to see other examples of tukutuku weaving, click on the word Tukutuku in the label line below.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One Man, One Cloak

One of my favourite photographs from the dawn opening ceremony for Te Hokinga Mai at Robert McDougall Gallery, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, which was held last Saturday, February 20th. The exhibition presents a stunning collection of Ngai Tahu taonga (treasures) in two exhibitions. You can see more photographs from the dawn ceremony by clicking on Te Hokinga Mai in the label line below this post.

Maori Place Names - 51

Lower Hutt, Wellington
North Island.
April 2009 Ajr

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspired by Heritage

I first came upon the beautiful homeware range by Auckland-based Native Agent at Wellington's super-chic Ohtel on Oriental Parade. The Ohtel beds (see above) are covered in Native Agent throws - gorgeous things that reflect both Native Agent's and Ohtel's creative approach to interiors.

I've seen discovered a number of other Native Agent products, including these terrific cushions and I've got to say I think they're producing some of the most beautiful and innovative contemporary Maori products in New Zealand right now. The company was started in 2004 by Elam Art School graduate, Rona Ngahuia Osborne, her partner,Dan and his mother, Lindsay and they now have their headquarters in Kingsland in Auckland. If you click on their website, you can read the interesting family history that gives rise to the company name, Native Agent. But basically, a family ancestor was employed as a Native Agent at the turn of last century - a Native Agent being someone fluent in Maori, who was employed by the Crown to assist Maori in matters of the law. The work that Rona and her team now produce is very much influenced by the chief items of trade from that period - muskets, woollen blankets, hei tiki and feathers. Love it, love it, love it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tokotoko - Two Views

Carved Tokotoko
(Walking Stick)
As Seen at the Dawn Opening Ceremony
Te Kohinga Mai - Mo Tatou & Mo Ka Uri
Robert McDougall Gallery, Christchurch.
For other images from Saturday's ceremony click on Te Kohinga Mai in the label line below this post.

Traditional Designs - 17

One Small Tiki Toy
In Red

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Quiet Moment - Te Hokinga Mai

Two Views at Dawn
Te Hokinga Mai
The Opening Ceremony at Robert McDougall Gallery
Saturday, February 20th, 2010
To see other images from Saturday's dawn ceremony click on Te Kohinga Mai in the label line below this post.

Making an Entrance

When Rotorua's leading tourist attraction Te Puia created a new mutli-million entrance and extension a few years back, they went all-out on the construction of a spectacular new entrance. Unfortunately it was raining the day I swung by last year, but this shot will give you some idea of the stunning carvings that adorn the gateway. The entrance is marked by a set of five carved waharoa (gateways), each slightly smaller than the one before it. According to Maori tradition, each represents the five stages of development in the creation of the physical world. Through the waharoa, visitors enter Te Heketanga-a-Rangi (Heavenly origins), a large, serene space filled with many more amazing carvings, that represents the spiritual beliefs of Maori. It was opened in 2007 as part of Te Puia's major re-development that has, to my mind, turned it into one of the best Maori cultural attractions in the country. If you'd like to see more photos of the entrance, click on Te Puia in the label line below.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maori Proverbs - 5

Maori Proverbs - He Whakatauaki
Tungia te ururua, kia tupu whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke
Burn the overgrowth to allow the flax shoots to grow through
From The Reed Pocket Dictionary of Modern Maori By P.M.Ryan

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Te Hokinga Mai - The Journey Home

At dawn this morning, the doors of the Robert McDougall Gallery at Canterbury Museum opened and Ngai Tahu whanau and invited dignatories made there way inside, in quiet procession, for the blessing of the taonga (treasures) that lay within. Te Kokinga Mai is a beautiful exhibition of Ngai Tahu taonga in two parts. It features the return home of Mo Tatou, the Ngai Tahu whanui exhibition that has been on display at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand for the last three years; and Mo Ka Uri: Ngai Tahu taonga from Canterbury Museum.

A crowd of 300-400 gathered for the early morning occasion and after a rousing welcome and whakanoa (blessing) by resident Ngai Tahu hapu, Ngai Tuahuriri we made our way inside. For most of us, it was a brief encounter -either a first time look, or a chance to welcome back the treasures that have been viewed by over 850,000 people at Te Papa over the last three years. It's a stunning show - beautifully conceived, with some wonderfully intricate shadows cast across the gallery walls. Each of the taonga is accompanied by a sprig of kawakawa leaves (as above) - this to represent the mauri or life force, the wairua or spirit of the treasures.
Mark Solomon, Kaiwhakahaere, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (left) and Kukupa Tirakatene (right) meeting manuhiri (guests) outside the gallery.
As Mark Solomon writes in the exhibition catalogue: "Mo Tatou: The Ngai Tahu Whanui Exhibition endeavours to reflect our values, traditions and aspirations as an iwi (tribe).....The exhibition tells us where we have come from, how we lived, who we were and who we are...." Now, after its highly successful showing at Te Papa, the exhibition has come home for the first part of its journey throughout Te Waipounamu (the South Island), where it will be exhibited in Christchurch, Otago and Southland.

The second part of the exhibition, 'Mo Ka Uri,' brings together an astonishing array of taonga from the vaults of Canterbury Museum that have never been shown before. Over 200 beautiful items are showcased - carvings, korowai (cloaks), kete (baskets), pounamu treasures and more. (It should be noted that the korowai shown in these photographs are not from the exhibition but were worn to celebrate the importance of the occasion). I have many more photographs from this morning's event, which I'll feature here over the coming weeks. And if you happen to be in Christchurch, a visit to Te Hokinga Mai is definitely worth your time.

From the Kete Files

One Woven Kete
Hanging on a Wall
Takutai o te Titi Marae, Colac Bay
Nov.2009 Ajr

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Portrait - 2

Waiting for a Call
Kapa Haka Performer
Te Puia, Rotorua
May 2009.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Historic Wharenui

I photographed this beautiful little wharenui at Te Puia in Rotorua last year. Te Whare Wananga a Hatu Patu was built in 1901 and transported to Christchurch, where it formed part of the traditional Maori village that was constructed in Hagley Park for the Royal visit in 1906. It was later returned to Whakarewarewa. It's beautifully carved and contains classic examples of Ngati Porou carving from East Cape.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maori Place Names - 50

Karikari Peninsula, Far North
North Island
April 2009 Ajr.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meet the People - 28

Another in the Series Meet the People - Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things - Corban Te Aika (Ngai Tahu/Ngai Tuahuriri) is confident te reo Maori (Maori language) has changed his life. Taking a break from his duties as a tutor in Te Reo Maori and Maori Indigenous Studies at Canterbury University, he talks about the power of language immersion and the benefits of attending language programmes and workshops run by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.
"My learning te reo was driven by a desire to learn more about myself, my heritage, my culture. My father is Maori but we never spoke te reo at home. For me, studying for my BA in te reo Maori and Political Science was a natural progression after my introduction to Maori language at high school. I haven't even graduated from university yet and it's already given me lots of opportunities," he says.
Corban, 19, has been attending Ngai Tahu's Kotahi Mano Kaika language workshop, Ka Pari Karakaraka for the last six years - six times in all - and he speaks highly of the positive impact they have had on his linguistic abilities. "The wanaka give you an opportunity to totally immerse yourself in all things te reo and Maori. I've found that a huge benefit. They put you in an environment where you are expected to speak te reo yet at the same time, it's a caring and encouraging environment where it's okay to make mistakes."
"Te reo Maori is in danger but Ngai Tahu's 25-year language strategy, driven by the vision of having te reo o Ngai Tahu spoken in 1,000 Ngai Tahu homes by 2025, is a terrific approach. It takes one generation to lose a language and three to get it back. I'm from the second generation of new learners and while we have a long way to go yet, the Kotahi Mano Kaika, Kotahi Mano Wawata initiative is an excellent one - and one that has definitely set the pathway to my future."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Te Wananga Whakairo

Last year's trip around New Zealand researching my travel guide manuscript (Frommers New Zealand), provided me with a bounty of photographic opportunities for both my blogs. My visit (one of many) and tour of Rotorua's Te Puia was especially fruitful - this despite the grim, wet weather on the day. A core part of Te Puia is the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, which features both weaving and carving schools.

Te Wananga Whakairo (The Carving School) was established in 1966. The school's first Tohunga (Master), Hone Te Kauru Taiapa was appointed when the school opened and remained its head until he passed away in 1979. He was succeeded later that year by the now-late Master Carver, Tuti Tukaokao. Heads and carving tutors have since been appointed from the ranks of successful, experienced graduates of the carving school.
If you visit Te Puia, you can enter both the weaving and the carving schools and watch the craftsmen and women, as they work on their weaving and carving projects. In the carving studio, the smell of timber and wood chips is pleasantly strong and visitors come and go, taking photographs and chatting with carvers, who have a little time on their hands. The key lesson at Te Wananga Whakairo is "learning the art to pass it on to younger generations."
"Ehara i a te rakau te whakaaro, kei a te Tohunga tarai i te rakau te whakaaro"
"It is the carver, not the wood that has the understanding."
'If you forget your ancestors, you too are forgotten."
I found it a fascinating place to spend time in and my camera was kept busy as I photographed close-up carving details and the intent expressions of carvers at work. They're used to the attention, though some obviously relish it more than others. Fulltime students spend three years at the carving school under the guidance of master carvers, many of whom were once students at the school themselves. In the forty or more years it has been operating, the Carving School has (partly or fully) carved over 30 wharenui (meeting houses) throughout New Zealand, plus "countless gifts for official guests and dignataries visiting new Zealand.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two by Two

A Pair
At Rotorua
May 2009 Ajr

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Southern Hui

I've been sorting through my photo files and thought it was time I featured a few more shots from the Ngai Tahu Hui-a-Tau, which was held at Takutai o te Titi Marae, at Colac Bay in Southland, last November
Mo Tatou, a, mo ka uri a muri aki nei
For us and our children after us
A lunch break inside the whare kai - a lovely space where the rafters are painted in contemporary interpretations of traditional designs. Despite the grim weather that saw some of the huge marquees blown down, everyone had a great time - their days punctuated with meetings, speeches, singing, dancing, eating, chatting, laughing and more eating. It's an annual event when many hundreds of Ngai Tahu iwi (tribe) members from the eighteen Ngai Tahu runanga around the South Island, get together at one of the runanga to discuss the business of the year as it relates to the tribe.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Swirl of Patterns

I am seldom without my camera. This means I can almost always try and capture some pleasing visual encounter; and invariably, that is as much about the small, often overlooked details of things as much as it is the wider view. Other people for instance, photograph the bigger scene of the Maori cultural performance; I home in on the small vignettes, the little peeps into the bigger picture - the fabrics and fibres, the tattoos, the traditional jewellery and in this case, at Te Puia in Rotorua, the traditionally, patterned carpet. For me it makes a richer picture. It alludes to the unseen and it makes you consider something that might otherwise never have been seen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Maori Proverbs - 4

He Whakatauaki - Maori Proverbs
Nau te rourou, naku te rourou ka ora te manuwhiri.
With your basket and my food basket the guests will have enough.
(May each contribute)
From The Reed Pocket Dictionary of Modern Maori.
By P.M. Ryan


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