Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One Mokau Morning

I almost sailed right by Maniaroa Marae on my drive from New Plymouth to Hamilton a couple of weeks ago. It was a cold, wet Sunday morning just after 9am and I was deep in thought - thinking about the little village of Mokau that I had passed through a few minutes before.

But just as I was about to swerve around a corner, I caught a glimpse of the deep red-brown carvings on the hillside to my right. I ground to a stop, reversed and took these photographs from the roadside. They're not as clear as I would have liked because they were taken long-distance, but they do give an idea of what a handsome set of buildings they are.
Maniaroa sits within the Ngati Maniapoto Rohe, just north of Mokau and just south of Awakino in the Waitomo District. It's a wild, windswept coastline with big seas that reminded me very much of the South Island's West Coast. I have read since, that some of the Tainui crew disembarked at Mokau and found shelter in a cave. Just south of that point, at Maniaroa Marae, the canoe's anchor stone is now embedded in concrete.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Carving Detail - A Museum Perspective

When I took these two photographs, I was testing my new camera as much as anything and, in a remiss moment, I forgot to note down the origins and history of this particularly beautiful carving. However, because it was situated between two large exhibits of Ngati Porou meeting house carvings, made near Napier in the late 1870s, I am guessing this piece may be part of the same group - although I could be wrong. I won't prattle on - just in case, leaving you instead, just to enjoy the exquisite craftsmanship of traditional carvers.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Maori Place Names - 68

Near Te Kopua
East Cape, North Island
May 2009. Ajr

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Ngati Mutunga Marae

It was a cold, grey, wet morning just on daylight when I came to a stop outside Urenui Marae, north of New Plymouth last week. I'm lucky these photos came out at all as it was pouring with rain and large trucks were rushing by, splashing me as they went. But in hindsight, I'm pleased I stopped on the roadside, as Urenui is a special place for Ngati Mutunga - it is their only remaining marae and has been a focal point for Ngati Mutunga activities and gatherings since the 1870s. It's fair to say it's the cultural heart of Ngati Mutunga. I love the way their three taonga - the ancestral houses of Mahi Tamariki, Te Aroha (both wharenui) and Te Titohea (wharekai), take command of the small hillock above the main highway.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You've Got Mail

I loved this little letterbox, carved like a traditional wharenui (meeting house), spotted in Wanganui when I was there a week or so ago. It wasn't far from the Putiki Marae.

A Portrait - 20

A Thoughtful Pose
By the Ocean
Jimmy Amers Beach, Kaikoura
April 2010. Ajr

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Market Pounamu

A Trio of Pendants
Pounamu on a String
Catching the Sun
Christchurch Arts Centre Market
May 2010. Ajr

Monday, June 21, 2010

Museum Stories - Otago

This is one of the iconic images that Otago Museum uses in its own promotional material. I took this photograph on a recent visit to the museum - it's the carving Poutokomanawa, in the museum's collection. According to the museum's notes, "the carved figues are of a tribal ancestor and ancestress in sexual embrace. This is a re-telling of one creation myth, the union of the primal parents, Rangi and Papa. One of their many children, Tane, the forest god, prised his parents apart, letting light into the world, where Rangi is the sky and Papa, the earth."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Portrait - 19

At the Opening
Te Hokinga Mai
Ngai Tahu Treasures
Canterbury Museum
February 2010. Ajr

Friday, June 18, 2010

Capital Art - A Maori Perspective.

"Spinning Top"
Robert Jahnke 2002
Woodward St. Wellington

This is one of my favourites among the many contemporary New Zealand sculptures commissioned by the Wellington Sculpture Trust in partnership with the Wellington City Council, to enhance the capital city's urban environment. It was created by leading Maori artist, Professor Robert Jahnke, who is currently Head of School and Maori Visual Arts Co-Ordinator at Massey University in Palmerston North. Jahnke (Te Whanau a Rakairoa, Te Whanau a Iritekura, Ngai Taharoroa, Ngati Porou), was born in the East Coast settlement of Waipiro Bay in 1951. He has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and internationally since 1982 and his work and career is an exploration of what it means to be a Maori artist. While an advocate for biculturalism, Jahnke often explores the issues around injustices to Maori through his artwork; and his sculptures often feature both Maori and Pakeha symbolism. Along with many wood constructions, Jahnke has also worked as an illustrator and in film and two of his best known commissions are door works for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the wall reliefs for Bowen House in Wellington.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Four Winds of Tawhirimatea

I photographed these two sculptures outside New Plymouth's Puke Ariki a few days ago - during the one sunny break I had in three days there. The plaque above, refers to the two images of the same sculpture above, which sits on the grass down below the entrance to the museum.
This second sculpture is placed outside the Puke Ariki/New Plymouth Library. Puke Ariki, incidentally, is an excellent little museum.

Maori Place Names - 67

Potaka Marae
2009 Ajr

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Waka Huia - Treasure Boxes

I photographed these beautiful carved waka huia (feather or treasure boxes) at Otago Museum in Dunedin recently. It's a name I love - waka huia - and as a collector of boxes and, in the past, of feathers too, I could only gaze in awe at these beautiful examples of traditional Maori craft.
According to the museum display notes "these elaborately carved boxes were used to store huia tail feathers and other prized possessions. There are two basic shapes ofwaka huia - the rectangular and canoe (waka) or oval forms. As they were intended to be hung from the roofs of houses, the bottoms of the boxes were as well decorated as the sides and lid. Male and female figures, sometimes copulating, are usually incorporated int the carving."

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Taranaki Billboard

The First Thing I Saw
When I Drove into New Plymouth a Few Days Ago

From the Kete Files

Weaving Materials
Works in Progress
Takahanga Marae, Kaikoura
April 2010. Ajr

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ngati Poneke - The Face of Wellington

Ngati Poneke
The Face of Wellington
Museum of Wellington
City to Sea

Maori Place Names - 66

Kakanui Area,
Otago, South Island
2009 Ajr

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Foxton Shed

Something about this old shed appealed to me - the swirl of designs covered over with corrugated iron, a desire to know what it was hiding....
You never know what you're going to find in Foxton.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Portrait - 18

Young Girl on a Waka Unua
April 2010. Ajr

The Art Of Bone

Hei Matau (fish hooks) in Bone
On Sale at the Cathedral Square Markets
May 2010. Ajr

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Wellington Sculpture

I came upon these pou whenua, by Maori sculptor, Ra Vincent, when I was walking in front of Parliament on my way to the NZ Archives building last week. I was in a hurry, hence my short-cut of photographing the sculpture notes rather than noting them in my book. But the message is the same and sometimes it's quite nice to see the actual plaque.

I think they make a strong and visually interesting statement on the patch of land in front of the Beehive on one side and the Old Government Buildings on the other.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Sign of the Times

Te Kaha
East Cape, North Island
May 2009. Ajr

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One Waka - A Short History

This bottom photograph doesn't really do this beautiful waka (canoe)- Te Paranihi - justice. It's much bigger and much more handsome than it looks here- although the detail shot does hint at the intricate beauties that deserve close inspection. I photographed it recently at Otago Museum in Dunedin and I noted the following from the museum's exhibition notes: "The hull of this waka taua (Maori war canoe) was made in about 1840 in the Whanganui River valley for Paturomu, a chief based at Koroniti. The waka was first given the name Tauria Komene but in 1890 was renamed Te Paranihi in honour of the then Premier of New Zealand, John Ballance. Although designed as a waka taua, Te Paranihi was never used in fighting and probably had only a plain prow.
In 1932, the Otago Museum set about the preparation of Te Paranihi for display, using a tauihu (prow) and taurapa (stern) from an 1828 waka taua named Waikahua, built by Ngati Toa. These carvings had been part of an exchange of gifts between Matenga Taiaroa of Ngai Tahu and Te Rauparaha, and were donated to the Otago Museum at its foundation by Octavius Harwood, an early European settler on Otago Peninsula.
The carving of the rauawa (attached sides of the waka) was carried out by Thomas Chappe Hall. His work was based on a design used in the Taranaki region and is in harmony with the design of the tauihu, telling the Maori story of the creation of heaven and earth. The spirals represent the coming of light and knowledge to the world.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Small Maori Chapel - A Return Visit.

I've written about this divine little chapel before - The Church of Te Hepara Mai, which was once part of the Te Waipounamu Maori Girls' College. It now sits quietly under trees on a ferry Road property in Christchurch - and you can read a little more about it and see better views, by clicking on Te Waipounamu Maori Girls' College below this post.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saved from the Wreckage

I visited Wellington's Museum of Wellington a couple of days ago and found it to be a very well designed and beautifully presented little museum - not that it was my first visit; this more a reiteration of my enjoyment of the small, intimate displays, the painting/mural entitled "Wahine" by James Turkington (1966), that was recovered from the wreckage of the vessel Wahine, that sank off the Wellington coast in 1968. It's part of the museum's very moving Wahine Gallery, which is a memorial to the Cook Strait tragedy. Although this mural had only been submerged for a few months before it was recovered, it was already encrusted with barnacles and small mussels. After cleaning and restoration though, only a few near-invisible scars remain on the formica surface.


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