Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Meeting House

On a recent visit to Taupo, I called into the Taupo Museum where I was most impressed by the display of this beautiful carved wharenui (meeting house). It's named Te Araha Rongoheikumi. If you remove your shoes you can enter - but not with a camera of course - so you'll just have to believe me when I say it was beautifully lit on the inside, to show off the incredible carving detail. There's a hint of that in the blue light washing up behind the wharenui in the main entrance hall. I love the addition of the burgundy leather sofa to the mahau (front porch). For any international readers not familiar with Maori architecture and culture, the wharenui was traditionally, the central building of a Maori village and now, of a marae. It literally means "big house" and depending on its use, it can also be known as the wharehui, whare tipuna or whare wananga. The wharenui is where a tribe records its history in carving, painting and weaving; it is a building that symbolises and important tipuna (ancestor) and major parts of the building represent parts of the ancestor's body. The amo for instance - the two major vertical carved poles at the front of the building - represent the legs of the ancestor, standing firm on the land.

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