Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Waitomo Guardian

I love the new entrance to Waitomo Glowworm Caves and I was fascinated on a recent visit by the pouwhenua decorating the forecourt. I've never seen Maori carving like this before - not incorporating flowers and birds at least. It seems a quirky departure from tradition.

Te Poupou a Tane Mahuta was unveiled on December 28, 1987 by Robert W Stannard CMG and Claude Taane to commemorate the centennial of the first exploration of the Waitomo Caves.

The carving depicts Tane Mahuta, God of the Forest, guarding the entrance to the caves and their inhabitants below. The Chief Carver was Tutunui Te Kanawa helped by around a dozen others. It's a magnificent entry statement that draws a lot of attention. When I visited a bus load of Japanese were all taking each other's photographs in front of it.

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