Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Visual Moment

Right Place, Right Time.
A reflection of a waka - on a poster - caught in the moody waters of Lake Rotorua.
It almost looks real.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Maori Place Names - 74

Otakau Marae
Moeraki, Otago
South Island
May 2010. Ajr.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tools of Navigation

It was a grey winter day when I visited the grounds of Parliament in Wellington earlier this year but that only accentuated the wonderful contrast between the bright green grass and this marvellous sculpture, "Kaiwhakatere - The Navigator" by Maori artist, Brett Graham.

Graham is one of New Zealand's most exciting sculptors, well known for his ability to engage in a "dual dialogue of Maori and European histories, at the same time adhering to the Modernist emphasis on form and material quality." Although not overtly Maori in their sculptural traditions, his works invariably draw on ancestral traditions and philosophies.

Although this work was only presented to the city in 2000, there's a lovely sense of the ancient about it - all those tightly packed granite cobblestones carrying the secrets and messages of another time. It's as if visitors from another world have left a strange and provoking souvenir of their visit among the shiny modern highrise.
The sculptures are based on the traditional tools of navigation - "Throughout Polynesia, the navigator is exalted as pathfinder and innovator for visionary qualities necessary for discerning leadershop," says Graham. The granite shapes represent a bird's head (manu), a waka (canoe) and a tuahu (altar). "The bird's head guides the traveller. It is a symbol of our inheritance in this land and of the future and the paths we may follow. The waka, or crescent moon shape symbolises a hopeful new beginning. The canoe suggests embarking on a journey, as did our ancestors, Maori and Pakeha. The tuahu, an altar of stones, built on arrival in a new land, suggests promises and challenges." (
Although stunning in its own right, I think the placement of this work is a major contributor to its power. It straddles the bright green hillocks of the parliament grounds confidently - like some ancient reminder to those in the 'halls of power' that soar above it, those 'navigating our future', that we are never far from our past.... no matter how much we would like to pretend otherwise.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From the Kete Files

A Quiet Corner
Weaving Studio
Takahanga Marae
Feb.2010. Ajr

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Portrait - 22

Kapa Haka Performer
@ Te Puia
May 2009. Ajr

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Distracted by an Earthquake

To regular readers of this blog, I would like to apologise for the sudden 'halt to proceedings.' Along with the fact that I am writing a travel guide and don't have a lot of time for blogging if I am to meet my deadline, Christchurch was hit with a major 7.1 earthquake on Saturday, September 4 and we are still reeling under the pounding of continual after-shocks. Today, six days after the event, well over 120 after-shocks have been reported and everyone is living life on edge. But I promise I will be back with much more interesting things in the coming weeks. I have a wealth of photographs from my recent North Island trip and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Decorated Back Alley

A Mythical Creature
Of Maori Legend
And Imagination
Striding the Wall
Whanganui Back Alley
May 2010.Ajr


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