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TE KARAKA

Te Matatini 2015

The pōwhiri is about to begin. Two great encampments stand before the mānuka palisades, Ngāi Tahu to the east, the motu to the west. The Rātana band lines up. Warriors pad through the crowd to take their place out front, patu pounamu cradled in their arms. One breaks away to greet a kaumātua. They grasp shoulders in a quick fierce hongi, voices quiet.

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A Puzzling absence

The East Coast tradition of Ruatepupuke bringing carving to the world from the House of Tangaroa was not familiar to the people of Ngāi Tahu. In fact the closest to a carving origin story one is likely to find in Ngāi Tahu tradition is that of Tama who encountered the gods and their full face moko. He demanded the same decoration, in order to become handsome and win his wife back.

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Master Carvers
redefine the faces of Ngāi Tahu

With the revival of Ngāi Tahu language and culture and the reconstruction of whare tipuna throughout the motu in recent years, these craftsmen have been given artistic license to express themselves through a combination of historical research and contemporary design.
As West Coast master carver Fayne Robinson explains it, “Today’s contemporary is tomorrow’s tradition.”

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The first language of Te Waipounamu

Rock art is one of the oldest and most significant of the traditional arts, and considered by some an early form of written language: meaningful marks left for others to read. Some of those marks offer a glimpse of the world in the time of moa and pouākai (Haast’s eagle). Earlier that morning I’d witnessed a drawing of the giant eagle soaring across a cave roof at Frenchman’s Gully. In this landscape of hawks and falcons, it’s easy to imagine the artist looking up to see that vast shadow pass above.

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Keeping the well filled

Louise Pōtiki Bryant (Kāi Tahu – Kāti Taoka) is invariably described as one of New Zealand’s most exciting Māori choreographers. Her biography describes her as a choreographer, dancer, and video artist. Since graduating from the Unitec Department of Performing and Screen Arts with a degree majoring in Contemporary Dance, she has amassed an astonishing body of work.

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Nathan Pohio

Nathan is a conceptual artist working in video and other photo media producing minimal cinematic installations. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and his work combines Ngāi Tahu and contemporary Māori society histories with cinema history.

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Lonnie Hutchinson

Acknowledging and informed by the rich cultural resources of her Polynesian heritage (Māori – Ngāi Tahu, Samoan), Lonnie is a multi media, installation and performance artist who exhibits in New…

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Breaking new ground

Contemporary multimedia artist Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Hāmoa) and carver Fayne Robinson have been commissioned to bring a Ngāi Tahu aesthetic to the $350 million-plus precinct, which will house staff from the Ministry of Justice, Police, the Department of Corrections, the Fire Service, St John, and Civil Defence and Emergency Management agencies. But what does a Ngāi Tahu aesthetic look like?

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The art of weaving

The first arrivals in Aotearoa found a climate much cooler than the one they had left behind in Te Ao Tawhito, or the old world. The new arrivals needed to adapt and create clothes and tools from the new plants they found here.

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